Winter keeps dragging on, and here at Studio One we've got Cabin Fever! While we wait out these last few weeks of cold and snow, here are the top songs and bands keeping us warm and thinking about summer!
Al Schares, Music Director:
OK, some might try to tell me this falls into the “guilty pleasure” category, but I beg to differ. ELO always sounds great – great songs and great recordings! When I hear them this time of year it gives me hope that, apparently, against all odds, spring will arrive, and summer will follow. I don’t know, but I think attaching a specific time and place to a piece of music is a function of when it clicked for you the first time. ELO is one of those bands I actually came to long after their prime. Frankly, I don’t think I have any of it in my personal collection, but I just love hearing it when I do. Lately, it seems to be everywhere. I just heard an ELO tune used in a TV commercial – always a bad thing – but I have to admit I really enjoyed those 30 seconds.
The other band I’ve been turning to lately is the Toronto band The Sadies. Fantastic roots band led by Dallas and Travis Good – monster players. They don’t just re-invent roots music, they really take it in new directions. Leave it to a Canadian band to drive what we call “Americana.” Sound familiar? The new album, Internal Sounds on Yep Roc, is another great one. I’ve also been listening to a track called "1000 Cities Falling, Pt. 1" from their Favourite Colours CD. Think Laurel Canyon ’69.
Mark Simmet, host of Studio One:
For driving-around music, and bouncing around music, Four Foot Shack the new release from Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang is tough to beat during this long winter. Claypool has been in several bands, most notably Primus. Although I was never really into Primus, one has to respect their ability to bring the funk, and their twisted hillbilly Frank Zappaesque songs are not bad in small doses. There’s no denying Claypool’s prowess on the bass, and for this new project he teams with guitarist Bryan Kehoe for 15 fun, fun tracks. Along with remakes of some of his own songs, we are treated to several covers of other people’s tunes. “Amos Moses” and “Battle of New Orleans” are wonderful, but the track sure to get you grinning is Duo De Twang’s rendition of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive:”
Annie Clark, also known as St. Vincent, wowed the crowd at last year’s 80/35 Festival with a tight, celebratory, highly choreographed show. David Byrne shared the stage with her that night, as they performed songs from their collaborative album Love This Giant. Upon completing that tour, St. Vincent soon began work on her next album. That record, titled simply St. Vincent, is out now to distract us from the interminable winter. The most satisfying albums often contain smart, accessible songwriting and ear-pleasing innovative music (exemplified by Byrne and his old band Talking Heads), and St. Vincent is eleven songs worth of pre-Spring bliss!
Here's the music video for "Digital Witness:"
Scarlett Cerna, host of Studio One:
Music is a great escape, and to get me through what seems like a never ending winter I find myself reaching for two albums: The Beach Boy’s classic 1966 Pet Sounds and Wild Belle’s 2013 debut Isles.
Right from the opening chords of Pet Sounds on 12 string guitars, I am reminded of the jangles of ice cream trucks that passed through my street in my youth. Then the rich symphonic sound of conventional and unconventional instruments layered with harmonizing vocals comes in and is carried throughout the album. Pet Sounds for me encapsulates not only the youthfulness of summers past, but also the excitement of possibility for summers to come.
Wild Belle is a band out of the Chicago area composed of siblings Natalie and Elliot Bergman, who have a shared interest in early Jamaican rock steady, reggae, and anything recorded at Studio One—this influence can be heard their debut album Isles. You also hear elements of West African music, funk, jazz, and Brazilian Tropicalia. As the vocalist and lyrists, Natalie creates simple yet graceful pop songs that when backed with Elliot’s compositions it melds together all these compelling musical elements. I can’t resist swaying along and doing lots of chair dancing when I hear a Wild Belle song. The island vibe of Isles is contagious and it helps to ward off the cold for a little bit longer.
Here's the original video for "Wouldn't it Be Nice:"
This is a live performance of Wild Belle doing "Love Like This:"
Karen Impola, host of The Folk Tree:
1. Gal Costa's "Samba Rasgado" - It's summer right now in Brazil, and this song can take you there for a brief mental vacation. Singer Gal Costa's voice and the saxophone in this one just sound warm, don't they?!
2. The New Line's "Fall on my Knees" - Here's some music that's energetic and eveokes the sound of southern places - a great antidote for the cold and dark. The New Line is a band that mixes American old-time music with African instruments and grooves. This song about love and its disillusionments features the South African mbira (thumb piano), bubbling banjo, electric guitar lines, and a jaunty trumpet.
We couldn't find a video of the performance, but here's a link to the song: http://brendantaaffe.bandcamp.com/track/fall-on-my-knees.
3. And, if it's starting to feel a little too much like summer, here's Peter Mayer's "Green." Being from Minnesota, Peter Mayer knows winter. This is a song for the winter solstice, but, even months later, we still need a reminder that spring is on its way. If you're interested, you can find the lyrics to "Green" on Peter's website.