Beck and Cage the Elephant

In November 2019 Beck released his fourteenth studio album, Hyperspace. The album was co-produced by Pharrell Williams who shared song writing credits on most of the tracks.   Here is an entertaining rendition of “Uneventful Days” from an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel in December.  Prescient lyrics.  And the set starts out looking like a bad home office fading into one of those Zoom virtual backgrounds.

Earlier in 2019 Cage the Elephant released their fifth album, Social Cues, and took home their second Rock Album of the Year award at the 2020 Grammy’s.  Here’a the psychedelic video for the title track.  I’m not sure what happens if you text the phone number.

Beck appeared as co-lead singer on “Night Running” from Social Cues.   The song gave its name to the 2019 concert tour Beck and Cage the Elephant co-headlined.

If you feel like watching a couple more videos, definitely check out the career-launching songs of Beck, “Loser”, and Cage “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”.  You’ll see why Cage’s lead singer Matt Schultz said, “Beck’s tunes have helped shape my life and musical palette.”

Have a Great Weekend

It feels a bit odd to end Friday conversations with “Have a great weekend” these days, with no travel, no restaurants, no bars, no concerts, no sports, and not much else brewing to separate weekend from weekday routines. Hopefully it won’t be long before the weekend resumes its rightful place in the rhythms of our lives.

During a conversation this past Friday, lamenting another weekendless weekend, I was introduced to the O’Jays “Living for the Weekend”.  Thanks, Spencer!  The song was released in 1976, in the middle of the group’s run of classics.  Don’t know why I can’t recall it, but maybe clocking in at over six minutes it didn’t get the air play of “Love Train” or “Use ta Be My Girl”.   Let the O’Jays sing you through the entire weekend cycle from Friday pay check to Sunday wind down.

A year after “Living for the Weekend”, Dave Edmunds released “Here Comes the Weekend”.  The song was co-written by Dave’s regular collaborator and sometime bandmate Nick Lowe, and only demands your attention for a radio-friendly two minutes.  Here’s a nice live version.

Among the goofier weekend homages is “Party Weekend” by Joe King Carrasco and the Crowns from 1980.  It has a special place in my heart, though.  On Friday afternoons in the 1980s, Jonathan “Weasel” Gilbert – DJ for Washington D.C.’s progressive rock station WHFS – played “Party Weekend” along with “Here Comes the Weekend” to close his Frantic Friday shows.  Have a great weekend.

What’s Old Is New Again with Garbage and Hiatus Kaiyote

Garbage released “Strange Little Birds” on June 10th. It’s the band’s first album since 2012 and only their second since 2005. “Empty” is the first track with an official video, and if you like Shirley Manson and the band’s original sound as much as I do you’ll really enjoy it.  To compare it to their earliest days, watch “Only Happy When it Rains” from their eponymous 1995 debut.  Fun fact to know and tell: one of the band’s founders is drummer Butch Vig, a record producer prior to forming the band best known for producing Nirvana’s “Nevermind” in 1991.

While Hiatus Kaiyote doesn’t have the 20-year history of Garbage, they go further back than that in gathering their musical influences. The Australian quartet formed in 2011 and draw on soul, R&B and jazz fusion. They’ve already been nominated twice for the Best R&B Performance Grammy. Here are those two nominated tracks: “Nakamarra” from their first album “Tawk Tomahawk” and “Breathing Underwater” from their second album, last year’s “Choose Your Weapon”.  Actually, the Grammy nominated version of “Nakamarra” included a verse by Tribe Called Quest co-founder Q-tip – you can hear it here at 2:30. Thanks for introducing me to the band, Victoria!

Across the Pond – Little Brother Eli and The Dø

Three years ago I happened across the newly formed British band Little Brother Eli (2013 post) while checking out the music blog Read and Hear.   The band released an EP that year and has now released a full-length effort “Cold Tales”.  The new album features solid rock and roll, as well as some eclectic tracks with deep, bluesy feels.  Check out “This Girl” in the rock and roll vein, and the title track to hear the band’s more eclectic side.

Somewhere over the Atlantic I spent a couple of hours sampling the musical offerings of AirFrance’s in-flight entertainment system. Found some crazy things on there (did you know that Hugh Laurie – the “House” guy – sings old blues tunes?)  Also came across an engaging song by the French duo “The Dø”. “At Last” is from their first album “A Mouthful” released in 2008. Their most recent release “Shake Shook Shaken” has swapped the guitar for synthesizers and a decidedly more electric sound, as you’ll see on “Anita No!”

Red Hot Chili Peppers Are Back, And An Unreleased Track Surfaces

In mid-June the Red Hot Chili Peppers will release “The Getaway”, their first new album in almost five years.  Breaking a 25-year, 6-album string with uber-producer Rick Rubin, “The Getaway” is produced by uber-producer Danger Mouse.  “Dark Necessities” is the album’s first single, and it features Flea playing piano as well as bass (remember that Flea’s first instrument was the trumpet).

Dave Navarro played guitar for the band for five years in the mid-90’s, a tenure that by all reports featured a clash of musical sensibilities between Dave and the other band members.  Recently an unreleased track from that era surfaced, “Circle of the Noose”, which reveals Dave’s straight rock influence and little of the funk that had been the band’s hallmark. Give a listen to this piece of newly recovered history, and also to the Number 1 single “My Friends” from the only album Navarro recorded with the band, “One Hot Minute”.  Dave’s guitar work on “My Friends” is really special.