Category Archives: Album Review

Hearing A Song With New Ears

Have you ever had that moment in life when you suddenly start seeing patterns or when similar or maybe even identical things start happening, seemingly all of a sudden and out of nowhere?

Yes, this is awareness, or self-awareness, or being more present, but if something doesn’t have meaning for us, we are not going to notice it, even if we are highly conscious of what is around us.
(Denis Cherim)

Case in point: I made a conscious decision a few years back to diligently follow the English Premiere League, and picked Tottenham Hotspurs as my team (thanks, Eric and Julian). Up until then I had never heard of Tottenham and soccer was a passing interest. I would be obsessed during the World Cup and then lose interest. I played when I was a kid, though if you ask my parents, all I did was stand on the field and play with my cup. Those things were NOT comfortable! Apparently I spent the entire game as a defender, looking at the crowd and the sky… and… adjusting myself! And then only showing interest and going into action when the ball came to me. Doh.

I am so NOT an athlete.

Anyway… the moment I was fully on board with Spurs, amazing connections started happening.  I was in Davids Tea in The Village and when I heard the London accent of the woman behind the counter, I asked her which team she supports… Yes, I was starting to be hip to the soccer lingo. She, of course, said Tottenham and was FROM Tottenham!

A day or so later I am on the FREEWAY… so thousands of cars, literally… and I see a jeep with a (you got it) TOTTENHAM bumper sticker. Then I’m at a party, and the bartender has a London accent. So I ask the same question… He says, without a beat or shock from me, “Spurs!”

Now… were those things always there and I just was not paying attention to them? Yes, of course. It did not mean anything in those previous moments. But as soon as I did become aware… BOOM! There they all were. Their motto is also an important one for me, so there is that!This is known as the “Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, otherwise known as frequency illusion or recency illusion. This phenomenon occurs when the thing you’ve just noticed, experienced or been told about suddenly crops up constantly. It gives you the feeling that out of nowhere, pretty much everyone and their cousin are talking about the subject — or that it is swiftly surrounding you. And you’re not crazy; you are totally seeing it more. But the thing is, of course, that’s because you’re noticing it more.”

“A couple of things happen when the Baader-Meinhof (pronounced badder mainhoff) phenomenon kicks in. One, your brain seems to be excited by the fact that you’ve learned something new, and selective attention occurs.”
(Kate Kershner on Sceince.HowStuffWorks.com)

Awareness is an amazing thing. We all THINK we are aware, but how much of the time are we just moving through life, living in our own head and missing so much that is in front of us?

The Buddhist’s call it “Satori,”which means sudden enlightenment. Others may call it an “epiphany” or “awareness” or “self-awareness.” The hip term is “Mindfulness,”which of course has been around forever. The pointis that we need to be open to all possibilities, to take the lessons that are almost always presented to us, and may have actually been sitting in front of us this whole time, and actually see them and learn from them.

For me, it is the realization that there are no coincidences… that things come to us precisely when we need them to. And forgive the long path that it took to get to this point, but this absolutely has to do with music and songs.Venice, a band I know and love has an amazing tune called “Bad Timing Song.”  I have heard it many times, but it came on random play yesterday and literally stopped me in my tracks… the lyrics hit me in a way they had never had before.

YES, I was going through a breakup… and YES, clearly I need to hear this message… but wow… just wow!!! I really… and I mean REALLY heard the lyrics, as if for the first time.

They have always been there… I have sung along to them… but clearly, given what I am going through and where I am at, they took on a new, personal and POWERFUL meaning.

“How many times have I dreamt of this scene
You coming back and you’re crying for me
Saying my name and wondering what went wrong

But I’m different now
And whatever I felt is gone
No love or revenge
Just another bad timing song.”

What is perhaps even CRAZIER is that they JUST DROPPED a new album… and there is a song on there that is even closer to where I am at in life. I was floored. You MUST check out Jacaranda Street!!! I know I guffaw, but I cannot tell you how good these guys are and how much I love this band… and these two connections have made that love even stronger!!!

“Stepping On That Bridge”

Again… the guys went in my brain and heart… knew what I was thinking and feeling… and then wrote a song about me! LOL.

And you think we are not ALL CONNECTED???!!!

The whole song is me… but here are some of the highlighted lyrics…

Verse 1:
“I don’t do well with change
I don’t do well without change as well
I’m on the branch, I’m on the limb
Time for me to sink or swim.”

Verse 2:
“I don’t do well with her
I don’t do well without her as well
I’m on the lam, I’m on the brink
Time for me to swim or sink
Time for me to swim or sink.”

Chorus:
“Whoa though it goes against my nature
Whoa gotta take a leap of faith
Whoa though I don’t know where it leads me
I’m stepping on that bridge anyway.”

So here is the lesson… be open to everything. Literally tell yourself, “I am open to the opportunity of __________.” (Thanks, Wally!!!)

Walk through the world with all of your senses wide open, and everything you need, will come to you… because everything you need is already there… and everything you need is ALREADY INSIDE OF YOU!!!

Be open to it ALL. Return to yourself, my friends. Be open to change. Take that leap of faith. Step on that bridge. Magical and meaningful and significant and powerful new tunes will come to you… and you will hear “old songs” with new ears.

 

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Under The Radar And Speeding – Jonny Polonsky’s Unreleashed

There are many good and bad things about about the internet. One one hand, it has completely changed the world… On the other hand… it has completely changed the world. Many worlds… It has changed the way we communicate… or don’t. It has changed the way we talk to each other… or don’t. And it has changed the way we get and listen to music. And we do.

The internet is an embarrassment of riches, though those riches do not always make it to the artists who deserve them. The fact that I can listen to anything I want, whenever I want is an amazing thing. But the fact that there is so much music out there, can also make it hard to find things. Not that I was ever a musician… well, okay, I play a pretty mean harmonica, actually… but I have not made a record of me solo doing that…

But I do miss the days of the mix tape… the days when artists pounded the pavement and handed their tapes to anyone who would listen. This is how Jonny Polonsky made his way through the Chicago music scene. And like his guitar playing, he went balls to the wall. If you have never seen him live, do it. He plays with a passion and fury that is filled with joy. He is just one of of those guys who truly leaves a pint of blood… and sweat on the stage. Amazing! I had the pleasure of seeing him at the Hotel Cafe last year and the show kicked ass. He is also one of those bastards that plays a gazillion instruments! And plays them all well… Jerk! 😉

In January of 2018 he released a new record, Fresh Flesh, which was reviewed here. This eighth solo release is great and I highly recommend seeking it out. Actually, you should seek out all his stuff . And the fact that he can now publish a 21-track demos and rarities album is remarkable… remarkable because Unreleashed: Demos And Rarities has songs that other artists would love to have as their main tracks.

I love Jonny’s quote on the impetus for doing this record:
“About six months ago, the thought occurred to me that I should release a greatest hits record.
Which is, of course, ridiculous because I don’t have any hits. But the idea quickly morphed into
a compilation record of all the best songs from the last 20 years that I never put on a record.
That idea sounded exciting to me.”

The opening track, “Everywhere All The Time” sets the tone and has become one of my favorite songs of his. It is so listenable on its own, but then there is also a whole other deeper element

“That song was actually written and recorded around 2007, but I feel like it really describes the chaotic, divisive, mean spiritedness that permeates so much of our daily lives right now. ‘You’re everywhere all the time, but nobody sees you there.’ People talk a lot about being one human family and loving and accepting one another, despite our superficial differences in beliefs or appearances. But we still have a long way to go. I personally feel hopeful and optimistic about humanity, but I had to vent my frustration and pain about this all-too-frequently cruel and insane world.”

Many of the tracks are Power Pop at its best, and if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know the special place Power Pop holds in my musical heart. Jonny is often compared to, or at least placed in the same esteemed group as, Pete Yorn, Ryan Adams and Frank Black. Clearly Frank has had a major influence, as he was not only Jonny’s idol, but also wound up becoming a fan, helping to set him up with a record deal AND producing that amazing debut album, Hi My Name Is Jonny! According to AllMusic, Black (the lead singer of the Alt Rock band the Pixies) has “produced prolific amounts of quirky, intelligent rock music.” That is a good description of Jonny’s music… a mix of Power Pop, Post Punk and Alternative Rock. Or for me… wheelhouse, wheelhouse, wheelhouse.

Enjoy a little ’90s flashback here.

Some of my favorite tracks are the aforementioned opener, and the killer “The Same Song,” which I need to write a movie for! According to Jonny, ‘The Same Song’ is something I had kicking around for years, but only ended up finishing when I first moved to LA. I had met Lyle Workman when he was playing in Frank Black’s band,
and Lyle co-produced the track.”

On a side note, Lyle seems to be on fire these days, composing music for film and TV, including a lot of work for Judd Apatow’s shows and projects like HBO’s “Crashing.” He has also played on some of my favorite records like Jellyfish’s Spilt Milk, Todd Rundgren’s Nearly Human and 2nd Wind and Beck’s Midnight Vultures.

I also dig “Amazed” and “See Your Around,” and I especially love the lyric “After the fight comes new beginnings.” And that’s the thing about Jonny… you can listen to the music and enjoy it as is, and this album is a true joy from start to finish… or you can delve deeper and get into the lyrics which range from fun and quirky to deeply moving and insightful.

Jonny Polonsky may be flying under the radar for some of you, but the music is speeding at the sound of rock. Give it a listen. Get to a show. And with all the music that is out there, make sure great artists like Jonny don’t pass you by.

 

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New Music Monday: Lao Tizer Swings For The Fences At The Swinghouse

First off, sincere and humble apologies for the delay in getting this post up and out. Sometimes life deals you a different set of cards than you were expecting and at the same time, offers up a nice side dish of gut punches to keep you in check… I don’t recall ordering those, but it is what it is… and the extra time allowed me to spend more quality time with this phenomenal album, which quite often helped me get out of my funk.

This was supposed to post when the album came out, back on March 16, so while it is not exactly “new,” I am hoping to be the one to introduce you to this amazing and fantastic artist and band. For those who already know and love Lao Tizer, welcome.

And away we go… It’s pretty easy to drag me out of the house to go to listen to live music. Especially when it’s in my own backyard.

But I was a bit tired when my buddy Sam Glaser asked me to meet him at Bogies last July 13th. Plus, I had been there a few times before, and found it to be… well… a “Cougar Bar.” Lots of loaded ladies (in more ways than one)… hitting on lots of young dudes, who were probably NOT so loaded. It was so not my scene.

But they have changed things around quite a bit… and now have live music way more often. The sound is phenomenal and the venue (seated at tables) is relaxed and quite enjoyable. It seems like they put a lot into the equipment, and the bands and artists seem to love playing there. The room is filled with people who are there to actually listen to the music… you know, be respectful, and not try to talk OVER the band, which is sadly, super rare in LA these days.

I am sure I was stressed, too… which seems to be un-subsiding as of late… but I got into my car and drove the 10 minutes to Westlake… sat down with Sam, and grabbed a beer.

And then it all changed.

There is certain music that just makes you feel good. Truly. You can not even try to be angry or upset while listening to it. Welcome to the Lao Tizer Band. Lao Tizer was insane. The band starts and literally does not stop… until they take their break between sets. It is jazz and fusion and rock and everything in between at its best and blew me away. And any frustration or anger I was having that day, vanished. Thank you, Sam!  And Lao!!!

When a band has a certain “live” energy, and just floors it on stage, it is often hard to capture that on a record. Sometimes the enthusiasm, joy and pure passion of playing is tempered, either lightly or a lot. This is SO not the case this record. And it makes total sense that it was recorded LIVE in just three days at Conway Studios in Hollywood!

I double dog dare you to listen to this record and not have a complete change in attitude, or if you are already in a good place, to be taken even higher. 

The album consists of eight incendiary original instrumentals (Yes, I have been watching Almost Famous a lot recently) and three iconic classic rock songs!

“We’ve never done anything with a vocalist and we’ve never done any cover songs, so this is the first time that I decided to delve into that realm, to basically expand the scope of our music,” says Lao.

This is the first album for the band in over five years!

Lao was a teenage prodigy from Boulder, CO, and has been playing for over 25 years now. He has nine albums which all show his eclectic musical tastes and influences.

He is the “son of hippies with a Russian-Jewish background, and the mix of that ethnic family heritage, parental new age influence and growing up with the sights and sounds of ’80s and ’90s pop culture (alongside the music of the ’60s and ’70s he heard from his parents) have brought him to a place in his artistic life where he was ready to embrace a wider range of influences and stretch himself and his players…”

If this is not “Jazz Fusion” I don’t know what is… though I am always hesitant to use that description, as so many people have a negative connotation. I started listening to Jazz Fusion in college with Spyro Gyra and Pat Metheny… quickly moved to Steely Dan in a more hardcore way… and really discovered everything.

For me “fusion”… as in Asian Fusion food, which is delicious… is just a combination of many styles, genres and influences. Maybe people mis-associate Jazz Fusion with elevator music, but if this was ever playing in an elevator I was in, I would not want to get out!

I mean come on, Lao and the band offer some complete unique and kick ass arrangements of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” U2’s “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” and Cat Stevens’ “Sad Lisa”!

Hello!!!

So of course you have Lao Tizer on keys… The vocals feature Tita Hutchison, who sang with the likes of Michael McDonald, Rick Rubin, Michael Jackson, and Foreigner, among others. Terrible artists all… 😉

The rest of the band is made up of:
Chieli Minucci, the three-time Emmy-winning and Grammy® Award-nominated guitarist and composer.
Grammy® Award-winning saxophonist Eric Marienthal, who is a permanent member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band.
EWI/saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Steve Nieves
Violinist Karen Briggs, who has played with Yanni, Diana Ross, Wu-Tang Clan, and Chaka Khan
Bass players include Grammy® Award-nominee Ric Fierabracci and Cheikh NDoye,
Grammy® Award-nominated drummer Gene Coye
Percussionist Munyungo Jackson

I had the pleasure of seeing a bunch of these artists live!

My favorite tracks, aside from the three covers… Yes, I started life as a Classic Rock guy… is the banging opener “The Source,” which begs me to get in the car and open all the windows and just drive… the late night soother “Forever Searching” which has such a soulful and deep yearning that winds itself up to the heavens with Karen’s strings… and the absolutely stunning “To Touch The Sky” which could be the soundtrack to any number of films all on its own.

Check out another video here for Metropolis”.

And if you get a chance to see Lao and the band live, it is a multiple must… Here is just another little taste… Both he and the band play with such joy and bliss, and like I said it is mood changing and infectious. I have done many posts on what I call joyful music, and it has to start with the artist and band… they have to love and want to play. You have to feel it from them, on stage and on vinyl. This record… this artist… and this band are pure and simple joy! And that, my friends, is the key (or keys) to life.

 

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Willodean – LA Band Makes Good… And Good, And Good, And Good!

Special thanks to Heather West for the heads up on these guys!

2017 seemed to be the year for bands to be truly prolific. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard released FIVE albums… and local LA Band Willodean released FOUR EPs. Come on, guys… you couldn’t do five? Lazy!!!

I jest of course, as you will immediately hear the work that went into making each of these four lush and stunning records.

Awesome Life Decisions came out in February of 2017, followed by Fires, Cars & Autumn Stars in May, Life & Limbo in August and then Awesome Life Decisions: Side Two in November.

The band lays claim to Sufjan Stevens and Wilco as influences (two of my favorites), and I would also add in Beach Boys, The Wondermints and a bit of Del Amitri and Toy Matinee to the mix… basically that Indie Rock/Power Pop I love so much!

I also hear one of my all time faves pop up in a few songs, the somewhat unknown and sadly missed band The Gear Daddies.

This trio is made up of front man and lead singer Abbie Huxley, songwriter Randy Wooten and producer/bass player Eric Holden. Holden and Wooten have been working together for over a decade, when they formed Cheap Lullaby Records and their band The Bloody Lovelies. That label released over thirty records for artists such as The BellRays, Joan As Police Woman, Ivan & Alyosha, Teitur, and David Mead. Impressive list!

The songwriting is smart, the musicianship is tight and Abbie brings a nice Tennessee waltz to his warm vocals. His voice is instantly familiar and reminds me of someone specific, though of course my mind is blanking on exactly who… but at the same time, it is new to my ears.

My buddies and I love to find and share bands with each other, and there are four of us in particular that have similar tastes. It always starts out with a text or message saying… “These guys are SO in our wheelhouse!”

Well, welcome to my “musical wheelhouse,” Willodean!Awesome Life Decisions is pure jangly pop joy and easily something I could have heard coming out of my ‘80s radio. There is a brightness to the record that lends itself to being put on repeat, as the six fantastic songs seem to come and go way too fast. My stand out tracks are “Shy” and “Don’t Give Up,” which also reminds me of The Explorers Club.

The pace slows down a bit on Fires, Cars & Autumn Stars, a slow-simmering, ballad heavy output that has a more folksy feel. It is definitely a great, late night affair. The opening “Afraid I’ll Start Remembering You” moves into “Carmen,” both songs about the loss of love and reminiscing, and clear proof that heartbreak so often leads to some great music. “Sweet Autumn Music” is a nice country affair that opens with a lovely, yearning mandolin. At least I think it’s a mandolin. My favorite track is the bright “Firelight,” which casts a nice country/power pop glow.Life & Limbo has been called “this summer’s breakup album for the modern introvert…” but for me, the pain is blunted by some gorgeous tunes and melodies. I guess that’s what makes a great breakup album… shared pain and revelations and then enough beauty and hope to move us forward! The closing track “Old Friends, with its sweeping strings, is a gorgeous lullaby of a song, that may not only lull you to sleep, but give you the chance to dream yet again.

Awesome Life Decisions – Side Two acts as both the rocking rebound record and year’s finale, and is the perfect bookend to this four-release affair. Though ironically, this was the album I started with, and what served as my introduction to Willodean. “Want” is another favorite tune.

This is the kind of band and these are the kinds of records that would make for a great night home, party music, or a long ass road trip. There is a comfort and familiarity at play, but Willodean offers it’s very own take on the music my buddies and I like so much. And as I said earlier, welcome to the wheelhouse! Most definitely hope to see you boys live!

 

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Guitar Jack Wargo’s Keepin’ It Real Keeps It Kool

There is just something soothing about the Blues. Whenever it comes on or I put it on, I go to a different place. My love started back in Chicago when I was a young student at Northwestern. My limited, classic rock sensibilities opened up dramatically thanks to some friends and Frat brothers at Sigma Nu. We’d hit places like Kingston Mines, Rosa’s Lounge, Blue Chicago, B.L.U.E.S., and The Checkerboard Lounge and my personal favorite Biddy Mulligan’s (both may they RIP.) Then I started playing Blues harp (harmonica) and forget it… I was so hooked on the Blues and would follow the legends around town and go see them whenever I could.

Back in 2014, an article in Time Out Chicago said this: “Biddy Mulligan’s was a seedy rock club on the northern reaches of Sheridan Road, just south of the cemetery that keeps leafy Evanston at bay. The club opened and closed a comical number of times, at one point re-opening for a whopping four months before shuttering again. Much like the oft-promised renaissance of Howard Street, a new, revitalized Biddy’s was always just around the corner. But Biddy’s did have an admirable history in the’70s/’80s—Koko Taylor played there many times, and Smashing Pumpkins rocked it in 1989.”

When I first moved to LA, I feel in deep with 88.1 KLON (now KJazz) and their “Nothin’ But The Blues” radio show. 

In recent years I have had the pleasure of seeing Guitar Jack Wargo play live all over LA. In fact, I have even gotten the chance to jam with him… always laughing when I accidentally step on his lead and have him look over at me and say “I got this.”

To put Jack in full perspective, let’s just say he has played with a few minor artists you MAY have heard of… Solomon Burke, Thelma Houston, Billy Preston, Ray Charles and Michael Jackson to name a few!

And then there’s this:

“There is huge talent in this man that is yet to be fully expressed. With his credentials and his chops, this is a guitar player on the verge of international acclaim.” – Gary ‘The Wagman’ Wagner, award-winning DJ at KKJZ 88.1 FM Nothin’ But The Blues

“Guitar Jack is silky smooth and Clapton-esque.” – Music Connection

His latest album, Keepin’ It Real is 12 tracks of pure funky, rockin’ blues joy.

It opens with “You Don’t Feel The Same,” which has such a true classic blues feel… and that guitar… Man! This may be my favorite song on the record! I could so easily see kids playing some of these licks over and over to try to learn to play!

“Keep On Keepin’ On” makes me want to jump in the car, roll down the windows… don’t have a top to put down… and just drive. Lots of Stevie Wonder funk going on, on this one!

“Inventory Blues” is a track we should all take stock of. We all have good and bad in our lives… but to make sure we appreciate what we do have is so important and way too easy to forget. Let the music remind us!

“Nobody But You” sounds pretty autobiographical… the pros and cons of being a musician in the public spotlight… and it’s always fun when you know EXACTLY who someone is singing about!

 “She’s Got Soul” is the perfect late night tune for a night of bluesy romance.

For me, the test of a great blues record is how quickly I want to run and grab my harps and play along. I’m ready, Jack!

Jack Wargo is a master craftsman and knows exactly how to build a true house of blues! And if you ever get the chance to see him live, that’s a must. Plus, he’s a really decent human being and a good guy. That goes a long way in this crazy world. Music soothes our weary souls, but sometimes those same souls need to be rocked a bit, too. This record does it all.

 

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Polonsky The Polymath Poet – A New Record (Fresh Flesh), A New Post And Our First Contest

Update: This did not post yesterday. Welcome to the pros and cons of modern technology.

On January 19, 2018 Jonny Polonsky releases Fresh Flesh. It is his eighth solo project, which includes 1996’s Hi My Name Is Jonny (LOVE that record), 2004’s The Power Of Sound and Intergalactic Messenger of Divine Light and Love from 2012.

When he is not making his own brilliant music, he has recorded or toured with a few minor artists you may have heard of, like Puscifer, Tom Morello, Pete Torn, Dixie Chicks, Donovan and the relatively unknown Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond. What makes this list even more remarkable is the sheer range and variety of musical genres Jonny moves so easily in and out of. This speaks to his amazing talents as a multi-instrumentalist, as well as a songwriter.

I know that times were different back then, but the sheer balls and story behind Jonny’s career is a lesson for any aspiring musician.

He was born in Chicago and grew up in Wilmette, and began “recording and self-releasing homemade cassettes as a teenager, under the name The Amazing Jonny Polonsky.”

According to Wikipedia, Jonny used 411 and “was able to reach and befriend musical heroes of his such as guitarists Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello), Zander Schloss (Joe Strummer, Circle Jerks), Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie, Tin Machine), and Pixies singer Frank Black/Black Francis.”

This led to John Zorn, who invited Jonny to play CBGB’s New Jewish Music Festival in 1992. The incredible and sadly missed Jeff Buckley was at that show and said this of Polonsky: “He came to CBGB’s Gallery and ripped it up… He killed ’em… The charm of it is that he’s brought it into his own thing. It’s a nice miniature. He does it with soul; you can tell the difference between someone who just slips into The Beatles or something and someone like him.”

High praise indeed!

“Jonny Polonsky is a true original—his music should be celebrated everywhere.” Mark Lanegan
Mark is a true Grunge pioneer with the band Screaming Trees and has played and recorded with Queens Of The Stone Age for 14 years after his first band surprisingly broke up in 2000.

Maynard James Keenan of Progressive Metal powerhouse Tool says: “Jonny has pure artist compassion running through his blood.” (MG Note: MJK also makes some phenomenal wine under his label Caduceus Cellars. Seriously!)

Okay, okay… who cares about those guys?! I know you really want to hear what I have to say. Ha.

So here it is… I really cannot tell you how much I love this record. Oh wait, actually I can.

From the opening “The Orbit Of Love” (a blistering rock love song) to the closing notes of “I Want You So Badly,” (both highlight tracks for me) this one just grabbed me. And I have listened to it probably 15 times in the last few weeks.

“Don’t turn away from what you know
Burn away and we’ll set fire to our names
Don’t pull away from the orbit of love
Come away and live inside of my eyes.”

“Is It So Wrong For Me To Be So In Love With Myself And Everything I See?” launches into a retro guitar riff that Lenny Kravitz would love, and makes me want to grab a lighter, bounce my head from side to side, and sway arm in arm with a huge crowd. I love this song! It just kicks some great ass.

Influences like Joy Division, The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees mixed with Pete Yorn, Ryan Adams and Frank Black, and some good old ’90s punk are heard throughout. It’s funny, but my first and initial reaction to this record was this is what would happen if Jules Shear went punk. Amazing songwriting with a varied and sharpened edge.

The players consist of Polonsky on B-3 organ, guitar and lead vocals (though he plays something like 20 instruments. Bastard!)
Jennie Batter on drums… and yes, how perfect a name for a drummer.
Katie Burden on bass and vocals.
Special Guests include:
Mark Lanegan, spoken word and lead vocals on “Solar Child.”
Kevin Haskins of Bauhaus pounds percussion on “I Can’t Get Your Face Out of My Mind.” This is the one that most reminds me of a punk Jules Shear and just pulses into your ears.

Haskins says this about the new record: “From towering arcs of rock riff blasting guitars and jubilant roof raising anthems, to vulnerable and introspective, melancholic compositions, Jonny Polonsky’s Fresh Flesh will take you on an emotional journey of carefully crafted songs from this accomplished, multi instrumentalist songsmith.”

Polonsky self-produced and the album was recorded at Shangri La Studios in Malibu, the home base for little heard of mega-producer, Rick Rubin.

Rock, pop… love, loss… sex, power and searing guitars… this atmospheric rock record has it all. And now for something not completely different, but new for Marc’s Muse… our first CONTEST!!!

Contest (Some answers are in this post. Some are not):
1) Where did Jonny grow up and who brought him to NYC?

2) Name three bands or artists who have influenced Jonny over the years.

3) How did Jonny first connect with some of his musical idols?

4) What was the name of Jonny’s 2006 band and who else was involved in the project?

Post your answers in the COMMENTS SECTION.

One winner will be chosen randomly from the correct answers received and will have a test pressing of the new record (yes, VINYL) mailed out to them.

Don’t miss the full band show on Feb. 9th at Hotel Cafe, LA’s fantastic and intimate venue. And in the meantime, also enjoy this great K-Tel commercial send up.

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My Top “10” Albums Of 2017 – Happy Musical New Year!!!

This year seems to be filled with my love and affinity for Power Pop and Singer/Songwriters… and is wonderfully filled with strong albums from female artists. Clearly the motto of my daughter’s school is right on… The Force Is Female!

I have not had time to sit with the new U2 album, so not sure where on my list it would be… But I will sit and listen to it again, soon. I also have not had a chance to listen to the new Lorde album, which many have on their year-end lists, so my bad. Please forgive me!

And yes… I am putting in ties so I don’t have to limit myself to 10!!! I guess I am just a dirty cheater… but my list, my rules!!!

Have a Happy and Healthy 2018 and here’s to much more great music!

#10 – TIE
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice
Love these two as solo artists… love them together. Great album!

Shout Out Louds – Ease My Mind
Thanks to Tuti and Alan for mentioning this amazing band that is so in my musical wheelhouse. Their fifth album is an easy, lush and gorgeous listen.

 

#9 – TIE
Old 97s – Graveyard Whistling
This Dallas, Texas band has been at it since 1993 and are still putting out amazing and vital records!

Real Estate – In Mind
So, I do not love this band just because they started in the Jersey town next to me. They make great and really enjoyable records, and while they had some major personnel changes, they are still making wonderful music.

 

#8 – TIE
Foxygen – Hang
I love this total throwback of a record, just hate that it is only eight songs long!

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound
Jason just keeps making amazing music, and I love the Springsteen influence on “Cumberland Gap.”

 

#7 – TIE
Ted Leo – Hanged Man
I had never heard of Ted Leo or his band The Pharmacists until this year, and this record was one of my most pleasant discoveries. “With funds raised through crowd-sourcing, Leo built a studio in his house and started working on a new, more personal and musically diverse batch of songs. Although a few friends like Mann and Jonathan Coulton dropped by, Leo was the sole guiding force and he acquits himself well as a producer.”

Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger In The Alps
So many friends recommended Phoebe and this album is absolutely gorgeous and vital. “You Missed My Heart” is easily up there for my song of the year.

 

#6 – TIE
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Soul Of A Woman
Obviously a bittersweet release, and this is NOT here just because of the passing of Sharon Jones. She and this band made some amazing music and she will be greatly missed.

Waxahatchee – Out In The Storm
Another strong female at the reins of a great band! Thanks to Julie Slater for the intro. to Katie Crutchfield and this great band. Did not realize her twin sister Alison had an album out, too called Tourist In This Town. Need to check that out!

 

#5 – TIE
The Afghan Whigs – In Spades
This band started in 1986! They faded out around 2001 and are now fully back. And we are the better for it, as they keep making some incredible music. 2014’s Do The Beast was also in my Top 10. At only 37 minutes this album flies by, but it also stays with you.

St. Vincent – Masseduction
From the cover to the album, this is one great, sexy pop record, filled with so many emotions. “New York” may just be my song of the year, too.

 

#4 – TIE
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Can’t same that I am a huge Rap and Hip Hop guy, but I get it and this album is rock solid… or Rap Solid… and gives me something else I can listen to with my daughter… Okay, maybe not!

Slowdive – Slowdive
This band formed in 1989 and have just released their eponymous record… and it is soooo darn good!!!

 

# 3 – TIE
This Is The Kit – Moonshine Freeze
This is what Joni Mitchell might sound like if she was starting to make music today. Not sure how I discovered this one, but it stuck. Kate Stables “sings, plays guitar, banjo, trumpet and percussion, while a cast of carefully hand-plucked friends deliver guitar strums, banjo plucks, hushed horns and electronic textures that sit beneath Stables’ easy, earnest lilt.”

Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights
Young women seem to be making some amazing music this year. Clearly there is an old soul at work here, same with Melina from Jay Som. On just her second album Julien makes some beautiful, smart and sophisticated music.

 

# 2 – TIE
Jay Som – Everybody Works
The fact that she is just 22 makes this album even more impressive. Melina Duterte from Oakland, CA is making what they call 90’s style fuzz pop, and this album is fantastic!

The National – Sleep Well Beast
Rolling Stone saysThe band’s trademark Joy Division gloom gets cut with sexiness and dark humor…” I say they are one of my favorite bands, and if I miss them live in concert one more time… AAGGHH!

 

#1 – The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
Oh how I love this band… let me count the ways… L-O-V-E!!! And yet another one I have never seen live. Sigh. For some reason, the dates for them and The National never seem to work out… Wilco, too for that matter…

So my vow for 2018, assuming and hoping they are all on the road, is to finally see Wilco, The National and The War On Drugs!!!

 

HONORABLE MENTION:
Ryan Adams – Prisoner
Love Ryan. His music is raw and honest and cuts to the bone and soul… always.

Gregg Allman – Southern Blood
No… but yes, okay… I NEVER saw The Allman Brothers live… and yes, this is a great record and hopefully a lasting memorial to a remarkable talent.

BNQT – Volume 1
The “Indie Supergroup” featuring Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Fran Healy of Travis, and Eric Pulido of Midlake make a great first record.

 The Clientele – Music For The Age Of Miracles
Pure, sophisticated, lush and stunning Power Pop. I adore this band!

 The Dustbowl Revival – The Dustbowl Revival
A huge step forward as they not only expand their sound and style, but continue to capture their amazing live energy on record.

Hazel English – Just Give In / Never Going Home
Another female singer/songwriter on my year end list! This album kept coming out as singles and EPs, but I am happy to finally have it as a whole.

 Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Singer/Songwriter heaven… I begged my daughter to go see him at Coachella… She didn’t, but now I hear him playing in her Spotify, so… good on me… though she claims another friend was the source. Sheesh!

 Neil Finn – Out Of Silence
Strong songwriting is the building block for a great and long career. Case in point… and still going!

Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
Indie folk may be supplanting Alternative as my new favorite genre! This band is going on 10 plus years and the music is still going strong!

Liam Gallagher – As You Were
Oasis cut in half. Tuti said I missed a killer live show. Sigh…

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon?
Oasis cut in half. Leaning towards Noel, because he has a bigger solo output and I love what he is doing… but apparently need to see both live! Another missed concert this year. Argh.

Grandaddy – Last Place
I love when bands deep in their careers can keep putting out such great and interesting music.

Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
Hooky, synth-pop. Yes, please!

LCD Soundsytem – American Dream
I love how Rolling Stone writes: “In the masterfully pissed-off American Dream, he can’t decide whether he’s making a party album for the end of the world or an apocalypse album for the end of the party.” Hell yeah!

Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Wembley Or Bust
Seeing them live at the Hollywood Bowl was one of the best live concert experiences I have ever had, so this souvenir, even though it was not our show, is an easy pick for my year-end list.

Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile To The SurfaceThis band is betting better and better!!! This one was close to a Top 10!

Mondo Cozmo – Plastic Soul
KCRW and KCSN played the heck out of “Plastic Soul, ”Hold On To Me,” and “Shine,” but I am not over this record yet and it seems more accessible/radio friendly than his previous band, Eastern Conference Champions.

The Pains Of Being Young At Heart – The Echo Of Pleasure
A recent discovery that has been in constant rotation.

Portugal. The Man – Woodstock
Love the story behind this album… finding his Dad’s ticket to Woodstock!

Ride – Weather Diaries
20 years in, and a new release. Kudos to them and this truly amazing record! “Home Is A Feeling” is also like a warm, cozy blanket.

Shakey Graves And The Horse He Rode In On – Nobody’s Fool and The Donor Blues EP
Love these guys on many levels. And a phenomenal band live!

Chris Stapleton – From A Room: Volume 1
I am so not a country fan, at least “new” country, but Chris’ music goes beyond a simple genre classification and he keeps putting out killer records.

Harry Styles – Harry Styles
Yeah, yeah, yeah… But… Quite a few songs I really like… and he is clearly channeling his inner Ed Sheeran, but always good to have something the kid and I can enjoy together… though I have finally won her over to the joys of classic rock!!!

Special Honorable Mention:
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
This insanely prolific group released four albums in 2017! Yes, you heard me (or read me) right… FOUR!!! This includes Polygondwanaland, which the band gave away for free… and I believe it is still available!   Murder of the Universe, Flying Microtonal Banana, and Sketches of Brunswick East “for which they they hooked up with Alex Brettin of the soft rock weirdos Mild High Club to concoct the smoothed-out psychedelic jazz album…”

AllMusic also says: “Trying to make sense of, and/or keep up with, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard can be a daunting prospect. They are nothing if not prolific, and nothing if not willing to throw curve ball after curve ball.”

CHEERS!

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