The Music Box Sets Of 2023

Music box sets!!! 3 CDs. 4CDs. 5CDs. 6CDs. 7CDs. 8CDs… 8CDs!!

But they’re all so expensive! The dollar is terrible. And now you get taxed for everything you want to buy on Amazon that your local record store doesn’t have. Assuming you even have a local record store! It doesn’t seem fair. But don’t worry! We buy these, so you don’t have to…

Following on from the roundup of box sets we purchased in 2022 [Part 1, Part 2] here are the box set titles from 2023 that we added to our collection.

March of the flower children : the American sounds of 1967
“By 1967, rock’s eternally restless spirit had moved on from Liverpool, the British Invasion and Swinging London and found a new place to dwell. The scene’s new creative epicentre was San Francisco, from whence the underground’s tentacles spread throughout the nation… Over three CDs and four hours of music, ‘March Of The Flower Children’ anthologises the sounds of American rock and pop during a year that would become enshrined in the history books as the Summer of Love.” (Adapted from

We can work it out : covers of The Beatles 1962-1966
“Three CD compilation that focuses on the massive influence The Beatles had on a multitude of artists in disparate genres throughout numerous countries, right from the very start. Featuring Mary Wells, Count Basie, Cilla Black, Joe Cocker, PJ Proby, Mae West, Jose Feliciano, Jimmy James, Liza Minelli and many more. Sunshine pop sits next to raw soul while bluegrass nudges up against jazz. Serious British folkies mix with campy Hollywood legends as Hungarian gypsy guitar makes way for proto psychedelia – nothing was safe from the all-encompassing influence of The Fab Four!” (Adapted from

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Staff Picks: The Best CDs & Vinyl of 2023 – Part 2

I’m Mark, the Music & Film Specialist at Wellington City Libraries. Every month this year my colleague’s Sam, Neil and I reviewed some new material for the music collection at Te Awe Brandon Street Library. You can check out each of our our Top 10 picks here. Following on from our picks is a selection of titles that other staff members rated as their favourite listens of 2023.

Shinji’s Picks:

Heaven / Sol, Cleo
The U.K. has a long history of producing fantastic female soul singers and now, more than ever, it’s filled with a multitude of talents – Lianne La Havas, Jorja Smith, Yazmin Lacey and Olivia Dean (see below) to name but a few. Among them, the key voice of the mysterious soul collective SAULT, Cleo Sol shines with a unique light due to her mesmerising singing and aura. Both SAULT and Sol have been very active – putting out a lot of impressive albums in a short period of time, and her third album ‘Heaven’ is another glorious work. Listening to this album, which features mostly medium/slow numbers, is an intimate experience. She sensibly keeps everything simple and shares tears, joy, and love with us. Led by her mellifluous yet powerful voice, it’s filled with a warmth and uplifting feeling as if a graceful modern gospel. Incredibly, she dropped another album, ‘Gold’, which is equally wonderful and slightly more defined, two weeks later. There is no doubt that she is an exceptional artist and with her charisma, she could become an influential figure like Erykah Badu. What a talent.

The omnichord real book / Ndegeocello, Meshell
The pandemic lockdown gave Meshell Ndegeocello, one of the most innovative, forward-thinking artists in the last 30 years, an opportunity to reacquaint herself with music. She was tired of looking at the computer screen and started to compose music on an Omnichord, a simple electronic instrument. They bore fruit in this terrific album released from Blue Note Records, collaborating brilliantly with numerous distinctive musicians including Josh Johnson (as the producer as well), Jeff Parker, Jason Moran, and Joan As Police Woman. Drawing from her extensive musical languages, she creates colourful music based on simple motifs which shift around jazz, soul, funk, afrobeat and so on. Her unique bass play as well as the polyrhythmic drums are the core of this impressive music. The album contains 18 tracks with a variety of musical styles and it’s 73 minutes long. Although it’s not easy to absorb at once, this hyper hybrid black American music is a stellar and rewarding listen.

Messy / Dean, Olivia
An alumna from the renowned BRIT school that produced Adele and Amy Winehouse, Olivia Dean gained attention from the very beginning of her career and won the breakthrough artist of the year in 2021 on Amazon Music. Her much-anticipated debut album Messy is indeed a bit of a mess, but a charming one which shows a lot of promise. There’s a touch of Amy Winehouse in her prowess and rich voice that effortlessly drifts between soul, jazz and pop. These songs tell us her personal story – about her Caribbean heritage, family, and love. The album is slightly overproduced, probably to appeal to a mass-audience, but Dean’s presence stays natural and true to herself. The UK has found another fantastic female singer, that’s for sure.

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Staff Picks: The Best CDs & Vinyl of 2023 – Part 1

I’m Mark, the Music & Film Specialist at Wellington City Libraries. Every month this year my colleagues Sam, Neil and I reviewed some new material for the music collection at Te Awe Brandon Street Library. The list below is the Top 10 picks from each us for 2023, the albums we enjoyed listening to most over the course of the year. Some of these titles featured on various critics’ Best of 2023 lists, but others are just albums that struck us as being unique and interesting.

Mark’s Picks:

Sleepwalker / Post, Louise
One of the most successful female fronted ‘Alt-Rock’ bands of the 1990s, whose influence still features prominently in a lot of contemporary bands, Veruca Salt‘s original line-up split acrimoniously after 2 full length albums and an EP, as founding members Louise Post & Nina Gordon went their own ways. Post continued with a couple more heavier albums & EPs under the ‘Veruca Salt’ moniker, while Gordon delivered a couple of much more commercial sounding solo albums. Hatches were apparently buried in 2013 when the bands original line-up, like a lot of other bands of that era, reunited to tour and eventually released a 2015 reunion album. Post & Gordon collaborated with Skating Polly on a 2017 EP, but following some touring in 2018 the band had been dormant. However Louise Post’s return to music was one of the surprising releases of last year, with her first solo album Sleepwalker. Apparently arising, like a lot of material, out of the Covid lockdowns she whittled down 50 or so tracks to the 11 that make up the album. As perhaps to be expected of someone her age, it’s a darker-tinged adult oriented ‘album’, rather than a set of singles. She really digs into mature stories of the domestic comfort/discomfort of long term relationships, alongside more upbeat tracks that work as homages to her own pop past. What’s perhaps the most surprising is how great it all sounds, as she works in a lot of genres and different instrumentation, but never loses focus on investing each track with a hooky, melodic line, disproving the long-held theory that it was Gordon who brought the ‘pop’ voice to Veruca Salt’s original albums. Her immediately distinctive voice is in great shape, and the sympathetic production puts it above the mix, so there is a real clarity to the album & it’s sound.

Rat saw God / Wednesday (Musical group)
Wednesday are a US alt-rock band from North Carolina and ‘Rat Saw God’ (a nice Veronica Mars homage), is their 5th album and first on the prominent indie label Dead Oceans, was hailed as a career breakthrough and ended up on a lot of the Best of 2023 lists last year. Helmed by singer-guitarist-songwriter Karly Hartzman the band takes it’s name from cult UK 90s band ‘The Sundays’. They fuse the vocal stylings of that band’s indie pop with the shoegazy rock of Swirlies, 90s grunge, the noise-pop of Sub Pop bands like Velocity Girl or Spinanes, as well as some alt-Country influences akin to Mojave 3. The twangy distortion creates a dirty/clean sonic aesthetic, and the combined – seemingly disparate – musical elements deliver something that, while obviously trading on past styles, still feels new & fresh. It’s an album of character studies, biting lyrics, and narratives of pain and suffering that reflect both the messy and euphoric moments of the protagonists. While they have been around for a while, there is a real sense of ‘next big new band buzz’ with this album.

Mermaidens / Mermaidens
Mermaidens returned with their fourth full length in 2023. Gone are the, sometimes, obtuse post-punk/psyche-rock overtones of their previous work for a slicker more pop sound, that harks back to the fizzy ‘Alt-Pop’ that ran through bands like Pixies, The Breeders & Belly, with dashes of 80s shoegaze & punk. With Samuel Scott Flynn (Phoenix Foundation) at the helm as producer, there is a real sense of arrival with this album. Every musical element is cleanly locked in place, the song-writing is more immediate & catchy, with plenty of pop hooks, along with more harmonies and shimmery, hypnotic, grooves. Perhaps their best album yet, and clearly one headed for the top in the next local music awards. (VINYL here for Mermaidens).

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May’s New Music for Te Awe


Statler: Well, it was good.
Waldorf: Ah, it was very bad.
Statler: Well, it was average.
Waldorf: Ah, it was in the middle there.
Statler: Ah, it wasn’t that great.
Waldorf: I kind of liked it.”
-‘The Muppet Show’.

I’m Mark, the Music & Film Specialist at Wellington City Libraries (I also run the Libraries’ Wellington Music Facebook page). Every month my colleague Neil and I cast our eye over the new material we have been buying for the Music collection at our CBD Te Awe library. We pick out some interesting titles across a range of music genres, and try to limit our reviews to a few lines only. Can we encapsulate an entire album in just a couple of lines? [Ed. This is probably unlikely at this point]. Do we actually know anything about new music? Or, are we just too old to understand what most of this is banging on about? [Ed. This is more than likely]. Read on to find out…

[Note: We focused on reviewing Wellington & NZ Material from our collection for New Zealand Music Month, so this is an abbreviated round-up of the new music titles added to the catalogue across May.]

Synthetic hearts / Msaki
Mark: A collaboration between Msaki, South Africa’s top singer-songwriter, and Tubatsi Mpho Moloi, a multi-instrumentalist from Soweto’s Urban Village. Lead track ‘Subaleka’ may give the impression that this is more World-Music, but most of the tracks are in English, and overall it has more in common with the smooth tones of a Sade album than anything else. Folk touches blend with with electronic elements & French cellist Clément Petit, to create slinky R&B that reimagines classic 60s soul duets through a future afrobeat lens.
Neil: ‘Synthetic Hearts’ is a rare and beautiful musical creature. An Afrofuturist album, with prominent electronica elements and many other components fused in, such as African House, Hip Hop, traditional Zulu music, Jazz and even cello. The lyrical content is largely in the form of romantic Duets. The result is a widescreen album that revels in a kind of sonic warmth and processes many creative layers that point to a beautiful, alternative African utopian future. Uplifting.

September November / Long Ryders
Mark: The 5th studio album, and first in four years from this 1980s LA band who helped invent alt-country with their 1984 debut Native Sons. 2019’s Psychedelic Country Soul was their first album in 32 years, and this follow up is just as strong with its Byrds/Flying Burrito Brothers/Tom Petty nexus of classicist country rock, with themes of loss and friendship paramount following the passing of their bassist in 2021. Plenty of social & political commentary also.
Neil: The Long Ryders originally formed in the 80’s, and have been sporadically in action on and off from that time onwards. ‘September November’ sees the Alt- country and Western outfit in reflective mood. Mortality and the passing of time is clearly on their minds, prompted no doubt by the passing of their long-time bassist Tom Stevens and their long lineage. That said, the album isn’t melancholic or down. This accomplished Americana album has elements of folk rock, country blues and soul, and reminded me at points of Buffalo Springfield or The Byrd’s during their country rock phase.

Fuse / Everything But The Girl
Mark: EBTG return with their first album in 24 years. If you were expecting it to sound like a combination of the respective recent solo albums from members Ben Watt & Tracey Thorn you would be wrong, as the album picks up where 1999’s Temperamental left off and heads on from there. More glitchy, contemporary club beats, woven around lyrical imagery and melancholy songs of weary aged protagonists and hangdog losers, aiming for last chance as the world closes in on them and the music fades. Good to have them back.
Neil: It’s been 24 years since Everything But the Girl last operated as an outfit. In the intervening years they have brought up a family, and also released other projects under various musical incarnations. This album pretty much picks up the baton from where they left off. Melodic, romantic, introspective electronic pop. Like a lot of their work, it is a very personal album, the lyrics are often about people desperately looking for connection and reflect some of the difficult times they’ve come through. The downbeat and sparse club-culture influenced beats leave plenty of space for Tracey Thorn’s vocals to soar. Fans old and new will love it.

Continue reading “May’s New Music for Te Awe”

April’s new music for Te Awe: Part 1


Statler: Well, it was good.
Waldorf: Ah, it was very bad.
Statler: Well, it was average.
Waldorf: Ah, it was in the middle there.
Statler: Ah, it wasn’t that great.
Waldorf: I kind of liked it.”
-‘The Muppet Show’.

I’m Mark, the Music & Film Specialist at Wellington City Libraries (I also run the Libraries’ Wellington Music Facebook page). Every month my colleague Neil and I cast our eye over the new material we have been buying for the Music collection at our CBD Te Awe library. We pick out some interesting titles across a range of music genres, and try to limit our reviews to a few lines only. Can we encapsulate an entire album in just a couple of lines? [Ed. This is probably unlikely at this point]. Do we actually know anything about new music? Or, are we just too old to understand what most of this is banging on about? [Ed. This is more than likely]. Read on to find out…

Éthiopiques. 21, Piano solo / Guèbrou, Tsegué-Maryam
Mark: In the January issue of Uncut there was feature write-up for a Vinyl only archival release by Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, an Ethiopian piano playing Nun. We had nothing from her in our collection, so we decided to track down the original 2006 CD from the Éthiopiques series. So while this is not a new CD persee, since she passed away at the age of 99 on March 26th, it seemed fitting to include amongst our reviews. Her fascinating life plays out like a Hollywood movie: a society upbringing saw her studying Violin at a Swiss boarding school, singing & performing for Emperor Haile Selassie, becoming a prisoner of war on an Italian Island during WW2, declining a place at London’s Royal College of Music to take holy orders at age 21 and live in a convent, ultimately returning to her music and in 2017 becoming the subject of a BBC Radio 4 documentary called The Honky Tonk Nun. Her piano playing is fascinating, ultimately too stylistically diverse to fit comfortably in the Ethio-jazz tradition, as she melds classical, improvisational jazz, Mississippi Delta, ragtime, religious music and minimalist techniques, into a rich and truly unique voice that tells the story of her own life.
Neil: This is an album of solo piano pieces composed and played by Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, a high-born Ethiopian woman who left her privileged life to become a nun in the nation’s Orthodox Church. She was educated and classically trained in Europe, and you can hear those American and European colonial influences in these works. But that is only a small part of the story, as her own Ethiopian musical heritage is also very much to the fore here. The music is unique. There is an emotional lyricism and depth to the pieces, as well as a strong sense of melody, and you can also detect elements of jazz and blues. Consisting mostly of material originally released in 1960s and 70s, this ethereal compilation holds all these elements seemingly effortlessly in a form that is both fluid and structured.

A tribute to Ryuichi Sakamoto : to the moon and back
Mark: This tribute CD, that was released towards the end of last year, was actually part of last month’s additions to the collection. However, since it was announced that Ryuichi Sakamoto had also sadly passed away earlier this month we thought we would include it here. From his work in Yellow Magic Orchestra as well as solo albums and film scores, he was a hugely influential figure within electronic music to scores of musicians across generations and genres. This collection of songs from Sakamoto’s vast catalogue are reworked and remodelled by contemporary artists and previous collaborators. While some are more experimental (Thundercat’s reworking of Thousand Knives), others expand on the original textures of the pieces, capturing their essence while suffusing them with additional emotional shadings of danger, melancholy and reflection.
Neil: The recent passing of Ryuichi Sakamoto brought into sharp focus what an amazing and versatile artist he was. He was at home in so many musical spheres, and totally unafraid to explore throughout his musical career. This album of remodelled tracks, released before his passing, is a fitting tribute that touches on many strands of his music, a complex and multi-layered album with a range of musical giants reimagining some of his works. Some of these compilations, whilst well meaning, are a bit patchy, but not this one. Each track is a valuable piece in its own right. I was particularly happy to hear a remodelled track from his Revenant soundtrack. A great entry point to the rich and varied musical world of one of our greatest musicians.

Songbook / Lazy Eyes
Mark: This Australian band have been around for 7 or so years, but ‘Songbook’ is their debut full length album, following a couple of EPs from 2020. This is classic psych-rock, not that much removed from it’s 60s influences, as well as the looming musical presence of previous Australian acts who have reworked this style for a modern audiences (Tame Impala etc). It all seems a bit overly familiar at first, as they hit all the major touch-points of the genre, with freaky guitars, noodling baselines, woozy affected vocals and vintage synth swirls. However the second half of the album features more proggy elements, ambient touches and straight up ballads, suggesting they have many more musical directions to explore after this.
Neil: Sydney psychedelic rock band Lazy Eyes don’t hide their influences. Quite the contrary, they wear them proudly on their musical sleeves, as the influence of bands like Pond, Tame Impala and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is clear to hear. That said, whilst this album is firmly in the modern psychedelic rock sphere it also shows the bands ambitions to widen their sonic palette. There are touches that remind the listener of the French band Air, and even rubber soul era Beatles. A band in evolution, and a great Gen Z take on psychedelic rock that is sure to please fans of the genre.

Curyman / Rogê
Mark: Rogê is Roger José Cury, a Brazilian musician now based in Los Angeles. Relatively unknown outside of Brazil, where he had 10-year residency at the downtown Rio samba club Carioca da Gema and composed the theme for Rio’s 2016 Olympics, this album has been critically acclaimed as his international breakthrough, following a relocation to the US. Lovely, warm, Brazilian rhythms, nylon-stringed acoustic guitars and emotional husky vocals, funky sambas and bossas, super catchy melodies, lovely backing vocals, this really has everything. Legendary Brazilian arranger Arthur Verocai was apparently convinced to come out of retirement to provide the string arrangements, which really are beautiful. No doubt this will be one of the best Brazilian releases of the year.
Neil: Brazilian singer songwriter Rogê has taken a long time to make it into the international music spotlight, as it is twenty years since the release of his debut album. It is a bit of a surprise, as the Rio samba star’s gently funky and soul influenced take on Brazilian music is instantly approachable, infectiously upbeat and enjoyable, and he has been a major star in his home country for a long time. The album is a sunny, uplifting, heart-warming and exuberant release. A sonic ray of tropical sun to chase away any winter blues.

On & on / James, José
Mark: American jazz singer, José James, who combines jazz, soul, drum’n’bass, spoken word and hip hop is back with a new album celebrating the work of iconic soul singer Erykah Badu, following on from albums that celebrated Billie Holiday in 2015 and Bill Withers in 2018. He has a very smooth and mellow voice but this is not easy listening persee, as his spiritual takes on these tracks dig deep into the universal truths within, flipping the songs to a male perspective with empathy and sensitivity. Improvisational, complex, moody; an album reflecting the growth of jazz to seek out new cannons from within other genres, opening up the music of both audiences.
Neil: ‘On & on’ is a set of seven covers from Erykah Badu impressive catalogue by José James. However, the album is far from a conventional covers album. Instead, José rightly regards the songs as part of the classic soul canon and justifiably reimagines them in his own unique light. As such, there are several aspects to the tracks, such as urban cool jazz and contemporary smooth soul R&B, not to mention blues and gospel. Overall, it is pretty laid back, but it also has real deep depth to the pieces, as his voice conveys truth and emotion and feeling. Reportedly after rehearsing, each track was done as a one track with elements added later. The cover sleeve photo clearly points to José intentions, as it is a direct homage to Alice Coltrane’s deeply spiritual musical Journey To Satchidananda.Whilst sounding very different from this album, the connections between the two in approach are clear. Surely another best of 2023 contender.

Pacific breeze. 3, Japanese city pop, AOR and boogie 1975-1987
Mark: . Japan’s late 70s/80s economic boom saw it become the world’s second largest economy, and also coincided with a technological revolution in the way music was recorded and listened to. All of which led to a sophisticated class of young urban Japanese and the rise of City Pop, a loosely defined form of Japanese pop music that drew its inspiration from R&B, Jazz and emerging Western music trends from funk to lounge and yacht rock. Once incredibly obscure, the rise of anime, YouTube channels, and now Tik-Tok has seen it re-emerge as a minor cult. Light In The Attic has been curating this phenomenon with their acclaimed ‘Pacific Breeze’ series of releases, bringing together a fantastic amount of music that previously has never been released outside of Japan. This is the 3rd volume in the series, an endlessly fascinating compilation of the smooth and funky, the cheesy and the sincere, the loungy and the electronic, presenting a strange and compelling reflection of Western styles subsumed and refracted into something new. Brilliant stuff.
Neil: As the title so succinctly states, this is a collection of Japanese city pop, AOR and boogie from the 70’s and 80’s. So, let’s unpack that a little. It’s a collection that speaks very clearly of its time of creation, especially when it comes to the production and the types of Synths and Drum machines employed. The tracks are bubbly, effervescent, and slightly unusual if you are more familiar with the western equivalents going on at the time, though there are lots of points of crossover. The tracks are largely groovetastic and feature such genres as disco, boogie funk, R&B, techno pop, and this era in Japan even spawned its own genre vaporwave. The cover art perfectly evokes the albums contents. A very different and unusual listen.

False Lankum / Lankum
Mark: Dublin folk radicals return with their fourth album, following on from 2019’s acclaimed The livelong day, in which they teamed up with Black Midi producer John “Spud” Murphy and won the Choice Music Prize (Ireland’s equivalent of the UK’s Mercury prize) for the album of the year. ‘False Lankum’ moves further from the traditional folk sound of their first couple of albums, expanding on ‘The livelong day’s’ dark drone-like atmospherics to create a dense, album comprised of two originals, seven folk tracks and three improvised pieces. Quiet, fragile pieces shift into foreboding laments, and then into funereal howls into the abyss. The album evokes a cinematic crawl through decades of folk references into a modern heart of darkness, with a cycle of songs about life, work, love, family, friends, and death. At 70 minutes it can feel like a heavy emotional journey, but as an artistic statement it has been compared to everything from ‘Ok Computer’ to Sunn O))), to late period Scott Walker.
Neil: Lankum’s fourth album is a deep-rooted gothic folk outing. The album is a very long way from conventional mainstream folk music. It is anchored in a melancholic, mysterious, harmonic centre that the band uses to lull its listeners into a false calm, before throwing them headfirst into a maelstrom of sound. It’s an exciting, intense and powerful listen, and whilst they are a folk band, they are at the experimental cutting edge of this genre. This album could quite easily have been done as a heavy-duty drone piece, such are its sensibilities and power.

Oh me oh my / Holley, Lonnie
Mark: Lonnie Holley is a well known artist working in found-object sculptures, paintings, and installations, who started to perform improvised, free-flowing music in the 2010s. This led to touring with musicians like Bill Callahan, Deerhunter, and Animal Collective, along with collaborative projects including 2018’s politically charged MITH and 2021’s Broken Mirror: A Selfie Reflection, with Matthew E. White. His latest album has been acclaimed as a career high-point. Produced by Jacknife Lee and featuring guest appearances from Michael Stipe, Sharon Van Etten, and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, it’s a musical autobiography that takes you on a frenetic and, at times, harrowing journey through his poverty-ridden background, exorcising plenty of trauma along the way. But this album also celebrates the blessing of life, and the triumph of spirit and will over circumstances. The big name producer and guests don’t actually shift this into any kind of ‘commercial’ mainstream framework, rather the added instrumentation and musical textures just focus and reshape his somewhat impressionistic style into more structured forms. A powerful and emotionally resonant album, whose themes linger long after the music ends.
Neil: Lonnie Holley was born into extreme poverty, and spent some of his childhood in the infamous Mount Meigs community juvenile correctional facility. Even now, at 73, he is still haunted by the abuse, torture and terror he experienced there. This past and pain informs ‘Oh me oh my’, but whilst this album is a deeply moving and emotional work, it is also both an experimental and approachable album that is ultimately a testament to the human spirits ability to survive. It defies classification in the best possible of ways, as Lonnie Holley uses his own musical language throughout. There are some elements of free jazz, and Sun Ra and Doctor John occasionally came to mind if you need pointers. A remarkable album that has a deeply personal and spiritual aspect to it. Quite extraordinary!

March’s new music for Te Awe: Part 2

Here is part two of our new music picks for March. You can catch up with Part 1 here. Do we actually know anything about new music? Or, are we just too old to understand what most of this is banging on about? Read on to find out.
[Ed: Neil was busy this week preparing for his CubaDupa exhibition at Thistle Hall, so you have to suffer through Mark’s reviews without any sensible counterpoint…]

I don’t know a thing about love : Willie sings the songs of Harlan Howard / Nelson, Willie
Mark: Willie Nelson is back with this tribute to songwriter Harlan Howard, a well known Country songwriter, that was released a few weeks before Willie turned 90! Over the course of 6 decades Harlan Howard primarily penned Country songs, but they were so popular and enduring, that each of the big hits has a list of multiple cover versions, that stretch across decades, sexes, and genres (‘Chokin’ kind’, for example, was originally recorded by Waylon Jennings in 1967, but also by Joss Stone in 2003, and the wikipedia entry for the track ‘Streets of Baltimore’ lists no less than 20 different cover versions). Harlan is so revered as a songwriter that both Waylon Jennings & Buck Owens also released tribute albums based around his songs. Willie is very much in his comfort zone here, but that’s a good thing as he brings his expressive, yet mellow vocals, to these classic tracks. Weather breezy, melancholy, sad or reflective, Willie’s years of wisdom imbue these tracks with a lifetimes of emotional shading.

Heavy heavy / Young Fathers
Mark: Young Fathers are an Edinburgh-based trio who won the 2014 Mercury prize for their debut album, Dead, along with Scottish Album of the Year award twice. ‘Heavy heavy’ is their 4th full-length album, following on from 2018’s Cocoa sugar. The sound of this album immediately made me think of Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ album that fused of Western Pop & mbaqanga, South African street music. However, Young Fathers extend this further, adding layers of Hip-Hop, R&B, gospel, rock, electronics, experimental noise, and just general exuberance. Huge tracks reverberate with euphoric choruses, warmth, optimism and a pulsing rhythmic energy that seems to reach out from the speakers to embrace you. Truly a unique sounding band, and I fully expect this to make many Best of 2023 lists.

Electrophonic chronic / Arcs
Mark: Arcs are the side project of Black Keys guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach. ‘Electrophonic chronic’ is only their 2nd album, following on from 2015’s Yours Dreamily. These tracks are culled from the original sessions for their debut album, as well as follow up sessions while they toured their debut, a wealth of 80-100 songs that sat unreleased after the sudden passing of band member Richard Swift. These easy going beats send out surprisingly positive vibes, despite the somewhat bittersweet nature of this release. Neo-psychedelic, jazz, soul, blues, funk & space-pop, all blend into a mix of the modern and the retro, as Auerbach’s elastic & soulful voice wanders through the surprisingly emotional layers at play here.

Continue reading “March’s new music for Te Awe: Part 2”