New Music Friday: In These Silent Days by Brandi Carlile

Of course I’m talking about Brandi Carlile’s new album, In These Silent Days, for New Music Friday this week. Whose blog do you think you’re reading? I listened to the album while taking a sunrise walk on the beach this morning (my last one before heading home, sob). I really do like it a lot, don’t get me wrong, but it’s probably the first Brandi Carlile album that on first listen did not become my new favorite Brandi Carlile album. It was bound to happen sometime, and maybe that will change with future listens. We’ll see.

A lot of the songs are definitely very influenced by Joni Mitchell, and I’m sorry to say that I just don’t love Joni Mitchell that much. Brandi would be super disappointed in me, I know. It may partly be because for most of my life the only Joni Mitchell song I knew was “Big Yellow Taxi” because it was the only Joni Mitchell song that ever gets played on the radio, and I loathe that song. I don’t hate all of her music, but I have also never in my life sat own and purposefully played music by Joni Mitchell other than the first time I made the effort to listen to the Blue album.

Like I said I don’t hate this album in any way. There are some songs I super love on it like “Broken Horses”, which is the one I’m highlighting here. I know many of the others that didn’t immediately grab me as much will grow on me. I will definitely be spending some more time with it and I certainly can’t wait for the day I get to see them play it live. Here’s hoping that’s sooner than I think.

New Music Friday: Higher by Mickey Guyton

Mickey Guyton’s debut album, Remember Her Name, came out today. I was actually kind of surprised by it because I was already thinking this album came out, but it was only an EP that I was thinking about. I previously wrote about the song “Black Like Me” that is on both the EP and this album. She’s one of those artists that has been around for a long time, but is now only finally getting some recognition and some opportunities.

Many of my favorite albums from the past year or so in the Americana/Country realm have been by Black women and it’s been making me think about how much other amazing music was out there that I never got to hear. Some small doors are finally opening for these women in this area, but it’s not like there weren’t any Black women making this kind of music until 2020/2021. It’s just that they were kept out of the room. I’m glad there is starting to be a space for them, but I know there is still a long way to go and these women have to climb a lot of hurdles to get to the same place as white artists if they can get there at all.

Mickey Guyton actually does not shy away from any of that and talks a lot on songs on this album about her struggles as a Black woman in this country. She mixes them in with some more traditional country topics like love songs, songs about small time life, and of course the seemingly now obligatory song about alcohol. The album as a whole does not sound strictly country either. There is a whole range from songs that are more traditionally country tinged to the current sound of pop country and songs that don’t even really sound that country to me at all like the song “Higher”, which is what I’m sharing because it’s my favorite song on the album though I think the whole thing is great aside from a couple songs that I don’t love. There’s so much there that you’re bound to find at least one song you like.

New Music Friday: Introvert by Little Simz

I’m jumping out of my normal wheelhouse today to talk about the song “Introvert” by British-Nigerian rapper Little Simz. Her fourth studio album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert was released today. Little Simz was not an artist I was familiar with before this morning when they talked about this album and played a snippet of this song on NPR Music’s New Music Friday podcast. I was immediately taken by the sound. They used words like expansive and cinematic to describe the music on this album and I can’t think of anything better to describe it. I have only listened to this one song so far because I was without my phone this morning and was using an old phone without a SIM card that I had downloaded podcasts for my walk onto via wifi. So I couldn’t pop into Spotify to listen to more of her music. I am definitely interested in digging into it more though. This song is like listening to a movie with it’s huge orchestral sound behind it. I honestly can’t think that I’ve ever heard anything quite like it.

New Music Friday: justified by Kacey Musgraves

Before we talk about Kacey Musgraves’ new song I want to tell you to go listen to Chvrches’ new album, Screen Violence, which dropped today. I would have written about that, but I’ve already had New Music Friday posts on the first two singles from the album so I thought it would be excessive to write about it again. It is the new music I am actually most excited about today. I really, really need people to go get vaccinated so that case rates go down and I can feel comfortable going to an indoor concert with 6,000 other people at the end of November to see them in concert. They are so good live, and I really don’t want to not go. I do have to say that I’m a tiny bit sad that they are about to go on tour to promote the new album since it means that Lauren Mayberry will no longer be at home to post quality cat content on Instagram of her two cats, Cactus and Poppy.

Anyway, now let’s turn to the song we’re actually here to talk about which is the first single off of Kacey Musgraves’ forthcoming album star crossed. It’s going to be her break-up album about her divorce from Ruston Kelly after their short-lived marriage. I always find break-up albums a little weird because it’s taking something extremely personal and making it super public in a way that most people’s break-ups aren’t and of course it’s always a very one-sided perspective on it. I’m not necessarily opposed to them and sometimes they are incredible (hello Rumours), but especially if that’s not the headspace you’re currently in sometimes I find them a little hard to connect to like I did The Chicks’ newest album, which was a whole lot about Natalie Maines’ divorce.

That being said I do like the first song, “justified”, off of Kacey Musgraves’ break-up album. I think she is at the forefront of trying to subvert what genre is and people’s insistence in trying to stick artists into a little box. Her music is definitely not constrained by a single musical genre. She just lets whatever influences her inspire her music no matter where it’s coming from. I’m excited to explore that aspect of the album when it comes out if nothing else.

New Music Friday: Living Proof by the War on Drugs

“Living Proof” is the first single off The War on Drugs’ forthcoming album I Don’t Live Here Anymore. It will be their first album in four years. This song has been out for about a month. I wasn’t into it the first time I heard it, but it’s been growing on me. It wasn’t exactly the more guitar heavy sound I was used to from their previous album and unlike their previous music which even if it started slow would eventually burst wide open. This song does the exact opposite of that. It starts slow and somehow goes even further into itself at the point you would expect that release. Right now it’s starting to feel perfect though as I start to burrow further back into hibernation instead of experiencing that wide open freedom we all thought we were going to have earlier in the summer. It also just feels perfect for this very gloomy, rainy day I’m experiencing as I write this. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the album sounds like when it comes out.

New Music Friday: Steam by Leon Bridges

There a bunch of new music out this week that I’m interested in including albums by Yola, Billie Eilish, Bleachers, and Prince. I haven’t had a chance to really dig into any of those albums yet, so I’m rewinding to last week and talking about a song from Leon Bridges’ new album, Gold-Diggers Sound. I was at the Newport Folk Festival last weekend, so I skipped my regular New Music Friday post. I’ve been looking forward to this album for months, and it totally would have been my topic last week had I written a post so I’m going to talk about it today instead even though there are some other interesting things out today.

I adore Leon Bridges and his soulful smooth R&B sound. He recorded the new album in Gold-Diggers studio, which is also a hotel and bar in Hollywood where he spent the past two years living and recording this album. It is very recognizable as a Leon Bridges album while also incorporating some sounds of more modern R&B. I chose to highlight the song “Steam” because I feel like it melds together Leon Bridges signature sound with more modern sounds but also sounds of 80s R&B. There’s a female background vocal that sounds very 80s to me and that I almost think is a sample of something that I can’t quite put my finger on. Even if it’s not a sample it’s very evocative of 80s R&B music to me. I dig it.

New Music Friday: Parking Lot by The Weather Station

I was struggling to come up with a song to write about today. I’ve been in non-stop meetings for work this week, which means I haven’t been able to listen to music while I’ve been working. I had been counting on Lorde’s new single “Solar Power”, but I am just not feeling that song at all. Maybe it will grow on me, but it seems very silly without a good enough musical background to offset the trifling lyrics.

My normal go tos for new music on Fridays weren’t offering me anything either. I wasn’t very excited about any of the new albums that came out today either. The All Songs Considered New Music Friday podcast didn’t give me anything and neither did my Spotify Release Radar or WXPN’s Press Play feature. For some reason it seems to be somewhat of a slow week for new music. I probably would really like the new Ryan Adams album if I would listen to it, but he’s not getting any more of money so I’m not going to so we’ll never know.

So I wound up looking back at what I’ve added to my 2021 playlist in Spotify to see what else that’s fairly new that I could talk about. I settled on “Parking Lot” by The Weather Station. It’s the second single off their album Ignorance. I don’t really have much to say about it. It’s just a song I really like. So here you go.

New Music Friday: How Not to Drown by Chvrches ft. Robert Smith

A lot of artists drop several singles leading up to their album releases these days, and I try not to just repeat songs by the same artists in my New Music Friday posts even when I really like all the songs. It’s only been a few weeks since I last wrote about a Chvrches song, but I couldn’t resist writing about their newest single “How Not to Drown” that they released a few days ago. The reason is because it features Robert Smith of The Cure. If you’ve been around this blog for any amount of time you know how much I love The Cure, so this song felt like a real gift to me.

The song itself is about a time when lead singer Lauren Mayberry said she felt like quitting the band and music altogether. The song was released in conjunction with the formal announcement of their new album Screen Violence, which is due out on August 27. According to the band the new album will explore violence created by screens, on screens, and through screens. I’m loving the two songs I’ve heard from it so far, and I’m really hoping that things will be in a good enough place for me to see them on tour in November. I’ve gotten myself comfortable with the idea of some outdoor shows, but at least at this point I’m not ready for indoor concerts. It’s hard to imagine what things are going to look like in November or how I’m going to feel about them then.

Also I want to give a plug for the new Japanese Breakfast and Joy Oladokun albums that released today. I haven’t actually had a chance to listen to them yet, but I’ve been eagerly awaiting them and can’t wait to dig in.

TV Diary

Greek

I was vaguely aware that Greek was a show when it was airing on ABC Family/Freeform back in 2007-2011, but it was never something I watched. I added it to my Hulu watch list as soon as I subscribed to Hulu, but had never prioritized watching it for whatever reason. A couple months ago I got to the point where I wasn’t watching anything on Hulu and decided I needed to either watch something or cancel it, so I started watching Greek. With it also being a decade since the show had ended I had seen a couple of pieces people had written about the anniversary which made it stick out as something I should watch.

At its core Greek is a show about Casey Cartwright and her younger brother Rusty who attend the fictional Cyprus Rhodes University in Ohio. Casey is a sorority girl and Rusty who is a science nerd decides to rush a fraternity in hopes of fitting in better than he did in high school. He is originally courted by the fraternity of Casey’s current boyfriend Evan, but winds up in the fraternity of her ex-boyfriend Cappie. There’s lots of stuff about rival fraternities and sororities that is sometimes over the top, but it also has all my favorite things in a show. There are great relationships, both friendships and romantic relationships. I love Casey and Rusty’s relationship. Characters also get to grow over time. They really don’t make shows like this anymore and I feel like with having now watched this one I’ve watched all the ones that have ever existed and it makes me sad. If you’ve never watched Greek I recommend it.

Somebody Feed Phil

Somebody Feed Phil is a Netflix show based off of the one season of a show called I’ll Have What Phil’s Having on PBS. We’ve watched both and it is essentially the same exact show with a different title and a different theme song. The Netflix show theme song is sung by Lake Street Dive, a band I really like. My husband joked that he will only let me take him to see them in concert again if they play the theme song. I told him he should just be one of those obnoxious people in the crowd and yell it out as a request. They probably won’t play it, but they’ll probably be amused anyway.

The show is a travel and food show in which Phil Rosenthal travels around the world and eats local cuisine with locals and various chefs. He’s this kind of goofy Jewish guy, who was the head writer for Everybody Loves Raymond. He obviously loves to travel, eat, and talk to people. It’s a lot of fun watching him do it. It really made me want to be able to travel and eat in restaurants again. I also don’t know how he doesn’t weigh 500 pounds based on everything he eats. There’s also a cute segment towards the end of every episode where he Skype’s with his parents and tells them about his latest adventures. I don’t know who decided that should be a segment of the show, but it’s endearing.

Kim’s Convenience

Kim’s Convenience is a Canadian show available on Netflix. It follows the Kim family who are Korean immigrants to Canada that run a convenience store. There is somewhat of an estranged relationship with their son Jung who got into trouble as a teenager and spent some time in prison. Now he’s out and getting his life back on track working at a car rental company. They also have a daughter Janet, who is in art school, which is not something either of them really understand. It’s really funny and sweet. The characters are great. I’m sad that the CBC has cancelled it and that the season 5 episodes released on Netflix today will be the end of the series.

Ginny and Georgia

Ginny and Georgia is a Netflix show that got a lot of comparisons to Gilmore Girls because it has a young mother and her teenage daughter at the center of it. It’s really not anything like Gilmore Girls other than that. Georgia was a teenage mother, but she also has a much darker backstory that has essentially turned her into a con woman and kept them on the run as a family for most of Ginny’s life. Ginny also has a younger brother named Austin. Their most recent move after the death of Georgia’s most recent husband, is to Wellbury, Massachusetts where Austin struggles to fit in a lot, but Ginny for the first time feels like she belongs somewhere. She finds a group of friends and a boyfriend and is trying to make sure her mother doesn’t do anything to screw it up.

Almost all of the reviews of this show indicate that it is trying to do too much and be too many things and they are not wrong. It’s a little bit all over the place. In addition to the con woman stuff and the life of a teenager stuff you also have it trying to address racial issues because Ginny is biracial. There are parts of the show that are really good. I actually really liked the stories surrounding Ginny and her friends and some of them felt very authentic about teenage life, but then you always had to swerve back into the more cartoonish Georgia stories. Unfortunately the show finally seemed like it was going to pick a lane in the season finale and it isn’t the one I wanted.

Philly DA

Philly DA is part of the PBS Independent Lens series. It’s an eight episode documentary about Philadelphia’s progressive DA, Larry Krausner. It’s a really compelling look at him and the work he is doing. He meets with lots of resistance for the changes he’s trying to make and it’s hard to know whether they will have an effect long term because people understandably worried about the crime that is happening now and want to see immediate action even if it ultimately is detrimental down the line. We happened to watch the final episode on the night that Larry Krausner won the Democratic primary in the current election, which based on what you see in the show did not seem like it would be assured.

Made for Love

Made for Love is an HBOMax show starring Cristin Milioti as the wife of a tech entrepreneur who has essentially been keeping her captive in the tech bubble that he has created. When announces his newest invention is a chip that will be implanted her brain she decides to escape, but it turns out he already implanted the chip and is able to track her. It’s a kind of absurdist comedy. There was a lot about it that was weird, but I liked it.

Small Axe

I’m cheating a little including Small Axe in this in that it’s really an anthology series of five movies on Amazon Prime directed by Steve McQueen about West Indian immigrants in Britain from the 1960s to the 1980s rather than actual tv series, though most of them are not much longer than an hour. Some of them are based on true stories and others are entirely fictional. Lovers Rock is the one that everyone was talking about when it came out, so I saved it for last. Turns out it was my least favorite of the movies, although I get why people loved it at the time. It essentially is just watching people go to a party. You don’t really know much about any of the characters and it really is just experiencing this party. There is one glorious scene in the middle with people singing and dancing that I know is what really got people and I get that, but I also think that people who watched this much earlier in the pandemic and lockdown probably experienced it very differently than I did when I watched it as vaccinations were rolling out and things were starting to ease up. I think Education, which is one of the ones based on real life events in which black children in the 1970s were being taken out of mainstream schools and sent to schools for the “educationally subnormal”, was my favorite.

The Friends Reunion

I adored Friends when it was on. I’ve seen every episode multiple times and especially the first five seasons I could probably quote from memory. I however was never excited by the prospect of this reunion that was announced as part of the HBOMax release. It didn’t actually even work out in their favor since COVID delayed taping it. I just didn’t see the point in it and it largely proved me right. The best parts were the cast just on the rebuilt set reminiscing. The rest of the show was trying to do too much or just seemed pointless. Like do I really care who David Beckham’s favorite Friends character is? I do not. There were a few tidbits that came out that I hadn’t heard before, but most of it was rehashing old territory while looking at a bunch of people who looked worse for the wear and just reminded us all how we’re 17 years older for better or worse.

Madame Secretary

I started watching Madame Secretary on Netflix several months ago and made it through about two and half of the six seasons. I might watch some more here and there, but it just didn’t hold my interest. I really do like Tea Leone and Tim Daly and I really like their relationship and even the family stuff with their teenage kids that is usually super annoying on a lot of these types of shows. Those pieces were essentially what was keeping me watching. The rest of the show is mostly just super procedural about her job as the Secretary of State and I found I just didn’t care about any of those plots. I like shows with more character stuff than this one has. They tried a little bit of super awkward romance stuff with a couple of the characters in the first season which they rightly dropped because they certainly didn’t know how to write it. Aside from an episode here or there that the plot makes touch on something in one of their personal lives you mostly just see them at work and don’t know much about their lives. I’ve never been a fan of procedurals for this reason and I thought this show was less like that than it actually is so I was never really able to get into it.

New Music Friday: Favorable Colours by slenderbodies

Given how late in the day I’m writing up this post you may have thought I wasn’t going to share a New Music Friday post this week and you would have been right. Given the holiday weekend it was a very light week for new releases and I just didn’t have anything on my radar that I felt super excited about posting about. I figured I too could take a holiday, but I got a last minute submission from a friend and figured I would write something up real quick.

I don’t really know anything about this band because until about 2 minutes ago I had never heard of them. I gather from some quick Googling that they met at UCSC and I am amused by the tagline on their website “Indie-pop duo, obsessed with guitars and falsetto.” And that’s all I’ve got. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. May it be filled with lots of wonderful music new or old.