Spring For Tunes 2017

After what seemed to be an endless winter this year, Spring is finally here. On the West Coast of Canuckistan, we’re used to bragging about spring flowers in February, posting Facebook pictures to torment our friends and family back east. Goshdarn it, it’s a tradition! Not so this year, though. In fact, it was balmy back east when we were still shoveling sidewalks. Thanks, global climate change!

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Still, even if winter didn’t take the hint that it was time to hit the road as fast as I would have liked, what remains is the music. For every thing, said Pete Seeger (or was it the Bible?), there is a season, turn, turn, turn. And so as if to fall in line with that as the buds on the trees are finally making good on their promises, here is a collection of new tunes just for spring 2017.

Lend an ear and drink in the life-giving splendour of each. And as always, tell me all about your favourites in the comments section, Good People.

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New Year, New Tunes 2017

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It’s 2017, finally! We’ve kicked 2016 to the curb and good riddance.

Last year, we lost a Dame. We lost a Prince. We lost a Poet Laureate. We lost a myriad of others who we count as heroes. Somewhere in there, the world gained a Drumpf. Last year sucked, basically.

From here, we have quite a job to do to make sure that this year, 2017, doesn’t suck as much. It’s early yet. But I get the feeling it may be a tall order. This is particularly given our political climate as racist organizations re-brand themselves, slither into the mainstream, and drip poison into the ears of the public.  We have to fight them. For that, we’ll need fuel for the trip.

Among other sources of spiritual nutrients, music is pretty high up on my personal list. If you’re here, you probably share my point of view on that. With that in mind, here is a selection of new music to kick off your new year. As is the norm, I invite you to take a deep dive, and tell me about your favourite tracks, and maybe even some ways you’re going to make sure that 2017 rocks instead of sucks. So, what are you waiting for? Step into my office …

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Fall Into Tunes 2016

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Fall is a glorious time of year, with late September being an episode of the season when the land casts off the last vestiges of summer, at least in this particular hemisphere. It’s a melancholy and often bittersweet time where we reflect on the boundless joy of summertime memories we’ve made, or at least console ourselves that it will soon be a lot cooler so that we can actually get some sleep! It’s also a time I personally associate with new beginnings, even as things are busy coming to an end. Maybe you do, too. September is like the more pertinent marker for a new year in that respect.

With all that in mind, it’s time once again for a new playlist of new music on this year’s edition of Fall Into Tunes. So, as per tradition at this time of year by now, here is a selection of new music from across the spectrum for your review and enjoyment.

Read about and listen to the songs below, and tell me your favourite tracks in the comments section, Good People.   Read more

June Tunes Digest 2016

580px-Joseph_Noel_Paton_-_Puck_and_Fairies,_from_-A_Midsummer_Night's_Dream-_-_Google_Art_Project

It’s summertime, summertime, and if you will, sum-sum-summertime. Perhaps weatherwise it’s been that for a while for you as it has been here on the (normally) Wet Coast of British Columbia. Around here it’s actually not been very wet at all due to a particularly dry spring. That’s meant that wildfire season has started early. I’m hoping this will not be the new normal that I suspect it is (thanks, climate change). That aside, and during a year that is turning out to be personally challenging on many levels, a reliable balm to life’s slings and arrows of outrageous fortune is always going to be  new music. If you’re here with me on this page today, I can only assume that I am not alone in that conviction.

To effect a change for the better as 2016 rolls on, here is a new list of summer tune-age for your consideration. As always, consider it to be my personal mix-tape to you, which should always be considered as an act of love when rendered by a music fan. Some of these tunes are fit for top-down rolling down the road in the sunshine. Some will offer an interesting contrast to that. Either way, open your ears to the new sounds of summer below with this year’s edition of June Tunes Digest. Please proceed! Read more

The Monkees Play “Me And Magdalena”

Good_Times!_(The_Monkees)_(Front_Cover)Listen to this track by golden anniversary-celebrating TV and pop music institution The Monkees. It’s “Me and Magdalena”, a cut from their latest album Good Times!. The record was released this past May, and features the work of several top shelf songwriters, some of whom helped the band to create their earliest hits (Goffin & King, Neil Diamond, Boyce & Hart, Harry Nilsson), and some who grew up with The Monkees and became songwriters themselves (Andy Partridge, Rivers Cuomo, Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller). Adam Schlesinger of Fountains Of Wayne produced the album and wrote or co-wrote a couple of tracks of his own. That’s quite a line-up!

This particular tune was written by Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, known for the unique brand of sombre and melancholic Americana on his own records. Where does that fit in with the happy-go-lucky Monkees? Well, that would be the contributions of Michael Nesmith [note: could this song be a sequel to “What Am I Doing Hanging Round?], who helped to fashion that same moody and rootsy sound from his work with the band to his solo career in the 1970s with the First National Band. Micky Dolenz and Nesmith harmonize on this track in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever heard them do. It is a wonderful surprise just how well they sing together.

That’s the thing with The Monkees. Fifty years later, the band that many people thought weren’t even real had dimension and range to spare all along. That’s why this song works so well, and why it reminds us what this band has always been about since our childhoods. And therein lies the secret ingredient to this song, and to others on the album, too. Read more

Spring For Tunes 2016

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After a particularly bitter winter on the east coast, and a pretty rainy one here on the west coast of B.C, a sense of renewal is required, whatever the weather. Everyone likes that feeling of moving on to the next phase. And when it coincides with the arrival of a new season, then all the better, right?

Even if you find yourself still entangled in winter’s morass, renewal can still be a thing. Of course (and you knew I was going to get to this) new music helps with that. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how lucky we are living in this age, when so much great music is being made, and being made so readily available. Our playlists are our own. But, perhaps this new list of tunes can help you form your own playlist for a new season, and for a new season and era in your life, too.

Take a listen, Good People.

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David Bowie Sings “Lazarus”(And Says Goodbye)

Blackstar David BowieListen to this track by recently departed musical envelope pusher and singularly iconic artist David Bowie. It’s “Lazarus”, the second single as taken from his excellent and final album ★, aka Blackstar.

With Bowie, you never knew what you were going to get in the best possible sense, so uniquely off-of-the-path was his route to creating some of the most innovative music in the twentieth century. Even now, the sheer magnitude of his cultural impact seems as immeasurable as it is glorious. As such, new albums from an artist of his stature always felt like something to look forward to and to dread all at the same time, post-1980. We held him in such high regard that our expectations of his work hung suspended in the stratosphere attached to a palpable fear of falling from such a great height, emotionally speaking.

Bowie’s output was not perfect. And he did let us down in varying degrees over the years, sometimes just because he followed his muse to places that made it hard for us to follow him. But with ★, he won our hearts again with a record that is both brave and innovative as well as hearkening back to tropes and themes that he’d spent his career exploring; identity, the nature of fame, isolation, displacement, and mortality. He was back! Little did any of us know upon release of the new album just how far he would go to communicate these ideas to us again, particularly in this song which turned out to be the last ever David Bowie single during his extraordinary life. Read more

New Year New Tunes 2016

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(image: Alice Popkorn)

New years and new beginnings. In the dead of winter here in the northern hemisphere, we need that sense of a clean, snow-swept slate. But, I’m not necessarily talking about ambitious resolutions and grand statements of changing one’s ways. If that’s your position and you are committed, I applaud you. Sometimes though, it’s the small and un-Facebookable changes we make that make the most difference, and tend to be the ones that we stick with. The examples of these are many. But, let’s get down to the nitty gritty and talk about your soundtracks for 2016 as you change your life or build upon what’s best about it. What will you be listening to this winter 2016, good people?

To help you answer that question, or at least give you a wider field of play, here is a selection of new sounds from independent artists from across the musical and geographical spectrum for you to consider as you shake off the remaining rags of Yuletide, and don your New Year apparel. Read, listen, and tell me your favourites in the comments section. And perhaps what you change first this new year 2016 is your new favourite artist.

As Billy Shakespeare once said: lend me your ears!

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Fall Into Tunes 2015

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It’s been a dry and hot summer; the hottest on record, ever. On this coast, we’ve spent the summer watching lawns die, and breathing in the smoke of forest fires. As I write this, it’s raining, sending down life-giving waters as a new season dawns; fall. Or autumn. Whichever you prefer.

In any case, like the rains that are currently quenching the thirst of a parched West coast landscape as I write this, it’s new tunes that help to bring life and health to our spirits during a season when the natural world is thinking about turning in for a long night of winter. For that, as usual, the ‘Bin has got your cure right here.

Here are sixteen new songs to let trickle down into your thirsty souls. Read, listen, and as always, let me know your favourites! Read more

June Tunes Digest 2015

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Summertime. And the livin’ is easy.

Well, I hope it is for you. If it isn’t right now, maybe all you need until things pick up are some new tunes. Well, if that sounds about right, then you’ve come to the right place. And if the livin’ really is easy for you, then – tunes. Same deal, folks!

So, as is our custom here at the ‘Bin, here are a selection of tunes from across the pop music spectrum and from around the world; something here for everyone. Dig in!

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