About normanweatheredmusic

I listen to music.

Star Collector Live at The Station on Jasper

In February of 2022, I did a blog post about a band that I had never listened to up to that point in time. So much music, so little time. That band was Star Collector, and I have listened to them a fair bit since then. I closed the blog with this statement: “When they tour through my neck of the woods… I’ll have to say hello to them.”

That happened last Saturday, they toured through my neck of the woods. I was fortunate to say a brief hello to the band’s frontman, Vic, and then I saw Star Collector live at The Station on Jasper. They are an excellent live band. Not to say they are bad streaming them; it’s just different live. It feels like they have more energy. I can see them and feel what they are playing. Before I got to see Star Collector, for the first time in my life, I was treated by the music of the opener, Wilde Oscar, and another first. I saw four Gibson guitars on stage at the same time thanks to Wilde Oscar.

Last Saturday. I was fortunate to say a brief hello to the band’s frontman, Vic, and then I saw Star Collector live at The Station on Jasper. They are an excellent live band. Not to say they are bad streaming them; it’s just different live. It feels like they have more energy. I can see them and feel what they are playing.

Visually they are right there in front of me. I see Vic’s rad jacket, and it’s a brilliant red. I see the instruments that they are playing. Being a guitar player, I tend to focus on them. Vic plays an iconic guitar, a Rickenbacker. Many of the greatest guitar players have played Ric’s, including George Harrison, Roger McGuinn, Pete Townshend, Tom Petty, Vic Wayne, Carl Wilson, John Kay and groups like Oasis, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, U2 and Star Collector.

The lead guitarist was on a Starfire guitar. I don’t see them around much. I think this is the first time I’ve seen one live. Very cool and rocking the house. The bass was right into the music and I was impressed with his virtuosity.

On Saturday, September 24, Star Collector played in Edmonton, the city where Vic Wayne started life and his musical adventures. The crowd was into the Saturday night music. Vic was full of energy, as seen in this photo, keep it coming Vic, I love your music.

I hate putting bands in genre boxes, but I will go out on a limb and say that Star Collector sounds a bit power pop with a dash of post-punk rock and a tip of the hat to the mod revival of the early 80s. All of that channeled into one heck of a good show from one heck of a good band. I don’t know what box to put them in, but I recommend taking them out of the box and listening to them, seeing them live and supporting them by buying their music and listening to them more.

Where Spirits Play

It is Friday, the day new music drops, and it is a good one today. My focus this Friday is a band named The Ember Glows and their EP Where Spirits Play. While this is an EP, it still clocks in a whisker short of half an hour, 29 minutes, actually. 29 minutes of music that charges at you, starting with the first notes of the first song.

Speaking of the first song, we have “Tomorrow’s the Day” in the leadoff position. It opens with a distorted guitar that lays the foundation for the rest of the EP. The Ember Glows sound like they would be a good live band; they have that kind of energy. As I listened to Tomorrow’s the Day, I kept feeling that I had heard that phrase before. A quick search through Genius didn’t give me what I wanted so I let it bounce around in my head, and eventually, I found the answer. The line “Tomorrow’s the day” is in the song You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere by The Byrds on their album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Totally different but they both have those three words, Tomorrow’s the Day. That was a fun rabbit trail, back to Where Spirits Play.

The Mirror is the second track of the four on this EP and it slows the pace down a bit from the blistering start of Tomorrow’s the Day. While The Mirror does feel more pedestrian it still has the feeling that we are walking on the edge of a knife. It’s sharp, it’s hard, it shines, it rocks and it rolls. Make no mistake, this band is serious about rock and roll and they do it very well indeed. About halfway through the The Mirror, the pace picks up and we get to hear some hard-driving guitar licks, I get the feeling The Ember Glows would be a good jam band.

Next up is Silent Love, it begins with a percussive intro that leads the way for the rest of the band to come in. The love may have Silent Love but The Ember Glows are not silent. They keep the tension and the energy pulsing forward. I like the line in Silent Love that says, “there’s is nothing left to do but silent love as you sit and stare at the stars above.” Last night my son and I set up a telescope and stared at the stars above, but we weren’t silent. I do enjoy being out in the country where it is stone cold silent and you can almost hear the stars above. It’s usually a bird or an airplane but you know what I’m saying, right? The last two songs on this EP clock in at over five minutes each. That’s five minutes of Silent Love followed by over five minutes of having a High Fever.

High Fever opens with more guitar jams, I love the guitar work on this EP. There are two of them that give a guitar nerd lots of material to get your groove on.

This Montreal four-piece was formed in 2019 by members of Room Control, Repo, Scene Noir & Citylake. Richard Bunze (guitar), Kevin Hills (bass), Martin Saint (voice, guitar) & Dan Stefik (drums) crafted a sound based on hooks, a pulsating rhythm section, textural guitars & baritone vocals. The band traces its roots to the moody side of 80’s new-wave, psych & British indie.

In conclusion, you can buy this fine EP online through all fine digital stores, including Bandcamp.

Keep up with The Ember Glows

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Handclaps & Tambourines

Librarians With Hickeys call their new album, Handclaps & Tambourines, “the perfect album for your next rock-and-roll book club meeting with the band’s melodic muscular indie pop (coffee and snacks not included).”

I have a love/hate relationship with music books. I’ve read my fair share of them, and when I was much younger than now, I had a sound mind for remembering much of what I read. The song “When We Were Young” captures some of that. A broad appreciation of all kinds of music gave me a solid foundation to build my music kingdom. I loved the knowledge the music books gave me, but I have found that the books tend to become dust collectors after the first read, with only a few exceptions. Now I find myself “Stumbling Down Memory Lane.” an excellent tune for a melancholic glance over our shoulder looking back to where we have been.

I think a music book club would be an exciting gathering of music lovers. Of course, we would have to have music playing while we discussed what we were reading. My music book of the month is Vinyl Cafe Turns The Page; I have read Stuart McLean‘s Vinyl Cafe books voraciously.

Putting the book aside, let’s talk about what is on the virtual turntable. Let’s get to the elephant in the room right from the start. Librarians With Hickeys. What’s up with the name? I couldn’t find an answer to that question, but it caught my attention, which is what a band wants. Well, they caught my attention, and I listened to them, got past the name and fell in love with the music that Librarians With Hickeys were making on their second album, Handclaps & Tambourines.

The lads in Librarians With Hickeys have done their fair share of listening to music over the years. Singer/guitarist Ray Carmen, lead guitarist/vocalist Mike Crooker, bassist Andrew Wilco and drummer Rob Crossley — write, play, sing and record like they have shelf upon shelf of music books and records. Their music sparkles with the best of 60’s sugar-coated pop, as heard on “Me And My Big Mouth,” inspired by singer/guitarist Ray Carmen’s obsession with the Monkees. “Fairground” is a fun summer listen. At the same time, we wait for “The Last Days Of Summer,” which features the haunting viola of Larysa Bulbenko (The Armoires). The opening barnstormer “I Better Get Home” rocks a 60’s Hammond organ, which never gets old.

Glam rock from the ’70s can be heard rising to the occasion on the song “Lady Overdrive.” Lead guitarist Mike Crooker dials in his wah pedal on that track and then makes his lead singing debut of the equally glitter-filled tune “Over You.”

’80s college rock? Check got that on the track “Can’t Wait ‘Till Summer” with its ringing harmonics and the 2021 hit “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You.” 

’90s indie rock gets checked out on tracks like the instantly memorable lead single “Ghost Singer” (with Christina Bulbenko and Rex Broome of The Armoires joining Crooker as the ethereal Greek chorus) and “I See You.” 

Back to the present day, Librarians With Hickeys have crafted an album that would be perfect for a drive with the windows down and the volume up. It gets a full release on October 14th through Big Stir Records.

Where Spirits Play

From the opening grinding dirty guitar, this record had me hooked. The Ember Glows are from Montréal, so I have a shimmer of hope that they may tour Canada and play a gig in my hometown of Edmonton. Until then, I am enjoying listening to their new EP Where Spirits Play. I am listening as I write this blog, and I think it is appropriate that today is Sunday, and there may be Spirits Playing around me. They are playing through my speakers, and I enjoy what I hear.

Montréal has a special place in my musical memory banks. From November 1969 to August 1972, I flew through Montréal several times a year. If I had time to kill between flights, I would take a cab over to a mall that wasn’t all that far away, and there was a great little record store in the mall with a cool guy working there who played some excellent music and influenced my musical life.

I wish I could meet that gentleman and thank him for his contribution to the history of music in my life and the tendrils that stretched out to touch the lives of others. I was introduced to Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on the in-store record player. That album blew me away in 1970 and still gets frequent airplay by either my son or me. I also bought The Court of the Crimson King and the triple album of Woodstock in that store. I wonder if that store is still open.

Whoops, this was supposed to be a blog about the recording Where Spirits Play by The Ember Glows, who hails from Montréal. It wouldn’t surprise me if I were able to walk into that little record store and hear Where Spirits Play on their turntable. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I bought it right then and there. Where Spirits Play isn’t Déjà Vu. Yet. Give it some time, and we can get together and see if it stuck to us over the span of 50 or so years.

The Ember Glows came together as a band in early 2019 by the glowing embers of several Montreal-based indie artists. Room Control, REPO, Scene Noir and CitylakeThe Ember Glows get their buzz from Richard Bunze on guitar, Kevin Hills thumbing the bass at our ears, Martin Saint does double duty on both vocals and guitar, and last, but not least, they have Dan Stefik doing precision percussion.

Speaking to us regarding the single The Mirror, released as a single ahead of the EP, “This song is about how most nations carry skeletons in their closets – even the so-called peaceful ones. Sooner or later, we must face the weight of history and the past hits us hard collectively. We don’t shy away from difficult subjects, but neither do we wish to preach or claim to know better than anybody else. Such sensitive topics have to be handled with delicate taste and utmost respect,” says frontman Martin Saint.

“The lyrics are only a personal reflection that came about some two years ago after some of my work in association with APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network), but prior to the ghastly Canadian Residential School mass grave revelations. Musically, this kind of subject matter needed something driving, yet hypnotic enough, to really drive the point home. The song slowly builds up until we explode as a full band.”

There are only four tracks on this EP, but I put it on repeat and can not count how many times it has gone around that loop. It reminds me of cassettes. Just keep looping them until they are permanently etched into our memory banks. I can’t think of any bands That The Ember Glows sound like; they have multiple influences that tastefully get mixed in, but they have their groove going, and I can only say with certainty that they sound like The Ember Glows. I get the feeling that they would be an incredible live band. All of the songs on this EP run over four minutes and could easily jam into a gig that would bring the house down. The closer High Fever is one song that I could see them jamming on as a closer for their live show. 

The EP ‘Where Spirits Play‘ will arrive on September 23 and be available from all fine digital stores, including via Bandcamp, where it can already be pre-ordered. I wish shipping weren’t so damn expensive. I would be buying their physical music in a flash. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying their music. It sounds good digitally; I just like physical music. It probably has to do with buying records and cassettes since those heady days in Montréal. May you rock on and be happy listening to your format of choice.

Lannie Flowers

Come on, Lannie, “Don’t Make Me Wait,” “Lost In a Daydream.” Sure, your music is “Good,” and it chases the “Summer Blue“(s) away. I want this album, Flavor* of the Month, to be “The One,” the album that helps me to “Let Go” of summer and wonder, “Where Did All The Fun Go?” 14 songs and all of them are flavors of the Month, “What Did I Know?” I watched the stars fight to shine through the “Day Glow All Night.” Light pollution ain’t bad out in the boonies, and I am “Doin’ Fine,” how “About You?” There are garage sales that will try to sell you “Anything But Love” up and down “My Street” until I flop in a chair on my “Front Porch.”

I thoroughly enjoy listening to Lannie Flowers and the Flavor of the Month. Flavor* of the Month is an album full of radio-friendly tunes. I can easily imagine hearing this 30 years from now on our local blast from the past radio station.

Lannie Flowers makes music that draws from the soundscape of The Beatles, Joe Jackson and …

What the hey, just read this:

https://www.bigstirrecords.com/lannie-flowers-spyderpop-records

listen to this…

https://music.apple.com/ca/album/flavor-of-the-month/1598394274

and watch this:

LANNIE‘s acclaimed early 2022 release FLAVOR OF THE MONTH is arriving on vinyl September 30, in a deluxe package that includes an exclusive new CD featuring the original, completely different mixes of the album’s tracks. The FLAVOR OF THE MONTH LP/CD package is up for pre-sale now at www.bigstirrecords.com and most online music retailers now, and on record store shelves worldwide as of the street date, with the new single and video “Lost In A Daydream” signaling the highly anticipated arrival of album on wax.

The LP package itself is a thing of beauty, as expected from SpyderPop Records and their in-house designer Dan Zimmer: a gatefold jacket, with song notes from Lannie and the original artwork from all the singles inside, and more. The CD, entitled THE ORIGINAL MARCH TO HOME SINGLES COLLECTION, features the single mixes of 13 of the 14 Lannie Flowers tracks that became the new record (and one one exclusive Holiday-themed treat). These versions are true exclusives: the tracks will not be available on streaming services, and the CD is only available in the LP package!

As for the story behind the singles that came together to create Flavor of The Month (released on CD and Digital in February of 2022) in their all-new remixed versions, that’s a tale in itself, told in detail when the album bowed in CD and Digital forms this past February. 

Crossword Smiles

CROSSWORD SMILES is a new band, and it’s a new sound even for the the deeply respected Michigan-based guitar-pop stalwarts at its core. The band was quietly formed two years ago by TOM CURLESS, formerly of Your Gracious Host and currently enjoying solo success, and CHIP SAAM, best known as the bassist for The Hangabouts and Curless’s backing band The 46% and the host of the indispensable Indie Pop Takeout show on Neighborhood Weekly Radio. The impulse behind the new collaboration? A pure and simple wish from a pair of like-minded music fans to hear something different.

The shape of that “something” was suggested by (but not limited to) the thrillingly diverse sounds of ’80s college radio. Think, perhaps, of the endlessly inventive ways in which the pop form was twisted into new forms of stark, clean-guitar beauty by the likes of XTC, Aztec Camera, the dB’s, or R.E.M. at their early peak. That’s not the full story, though: Crossword Smiles is born not of genre purism, but rather the unerring instincts of Curless and Saam for drawing on their mutually encyclopedic and eclectic knowledge of rock’s full and rich history to create something new, just as those bands had done.

And so while the overall sound and evocatively conversational lyrical approach of Pressed & Ironed might suggest a great lost Crowded House album – particularly on the gorgeous lead single “Parallel Lines” and the eerily angular-yet-lush shuffle “October Leaves” — there’s much more at work beneath the surface. When discussing the songs of the record, Crossword Smiles will cite inspirations as diverse as Steely Dan (Curless’s guitar solo on “Lines”), Rockpile (the whole of the deceptively direct “Where’s The Sense”) and The Replacements on both the opening “Feet On The Ground” and closing “Take It On The Chin”. You can hear textures evoking everyone from The Modern Lovers to Talk Talk rubbing shoulders from track to track, or even within the same song. And the eclectic but completely consonant nature of the album owes everything to the band’s genesis in a music-geek conversation between Saam and Curless after wrapping a recording session for Tom’s last record. As he tells it:

“So, here we find ourselves, sidled up at the bar like a few regulars, sipping our quickly warming beers at an Ann Arbor saloon. Between exchanging glances with the insanely busy bartender, we are extolling the virtues of Joe Jackson’s Look Sharp. The stark, simple beauty of The Go Between’s 16 Lovers Lane and the sharp songwriting on Freedy Johnston’s This Perfect World. Another common point of reference was The Cars, their knack for melody, musicianship and that infectious new wave energy. Often, in our mind at least, in different ways all somewhat overlooked bands or artists that we don’t hear anyone sounding like anymore. We fell into talking about putting together a project where we could try to replicate or at least in our own way pay tribute to these types of artists.”

And sure enough you’ll get a Cars-like rush from the driving “Lotus” (best experienced as the opener of Side 2 on the vinyl LP). “This Little Town” is indeed an unmistakable nod to The Go-Betweens, albeit one that somehow evokes both the Grant McLennan and Robert Forster sides of the ledger equally. Johnston’s vibe is all over the pedal-steel-and-open-snare sonics of the beautiful “Walk Softly”. And we haven’t even mentioned the sweetly wry jangle-rock character sketch “Second Guesser”, with its spiraling Television-like guitar leads courtesy of Saam’s Hangabouts bandmate Greg Addington. Or the brilliantly-titled “The Girl With A Penchant For Yellow”, which is probably the only song you’ll hear this year to mix equal parts of The Who and Split Enz and spike the resulting cocktail with a dose of vocoder.

But as much as Pressed & Ironed leans into those influences, it doesn’t sound precisely like any of them. Nor does it line up exactly with the superb back catalogs of either of its two chief architects. It’s something completely new. Would it have sounded completely at home on college radio circa 1985? Hell yes. But what Crossword Smiles have crafted on their debut is maybe even more vital on today’s melodic rock scene where too many bands are sheltering in the shade of the the same weather-worn Merseybeat and power pop touchstones. The record amply demonstrates that there’s more than one way to hang a hook… and the indie pop world is already richer for having CROSSWORD SMILES in it.

We All Shine On: Celebrating The Music Of 1970

Are You Ready? This anthology starts with a question. Are You Ready? I almost missed a decent listening experience because I wasn’t ready to give it a fair and honest listen, and a little research got me over that hurdle.

When I first encountered the collection of songs known as ‘We All Shine On, Celebrating the Music of 1970,” my first impression was that this was just one more in a long history of generic cover songs. I put the CD on while I did some work, and it languished in digital limbo for a couple of weeks.

As the release date came and went, I decided I needed to give this an honest chance of standing on its own, so I dusted off the dust cover and listened again. And I am glad that I didn’t let a dour first impression paint the CD in bad lighting. As I listened, I started gleaning gems and nuggets from the various artist’s fresh renditions of some of the radio-friendly songs from 1970. Now, I do have a question for Big Stir Records. Why did you pick 1970? That was 52 years ago. Maybe you started the project in 2020, but it took two years to get it up and running. Nah! You guys and gals don’t work that way. I guess it’s just me, I like round numbers, and 1972 was an excellent vintage for the music world.

Back to the present, Twenty Twenty Two. I listened again and cursed at whoever decided to include Yellow River in this collection of songs. I don’t hate the song. I don’t have a vendetta against The Armoires; they are talented and have made way more music than I ever have. The problem is not in quality. The issue pertains to the phenomena of earworms. For some reason, Yellow River gets stuck in some deep crevasse of my brain folds, and it is challenging to heave out once it gets settled in. I am listening to the song as I write this, and I can guarantee that it will be in there for the rest of the evening unless I bombard it with something heavier—Iron Man, perhaps.*

They aren’t Black Sabbath, but The Archies were a staple of my music listening in the ’70s. I have fond memories of driving with the windows down, ‘Sugar Sugar” on the radio and my hair blowing in the wind. Fast forward to 2022, I open the sunroof, turn up “Sunshine,” freshened up and given a little edge by Sparkle Jets*U.K. and long for the good old days when I had enough hair to blow in the wind.

Ah, the good old days. Arizona by Mark Lindsay gets a bit of an R&B/Pop sensibility courtesy of Darian. I love the bass lines that they gave Arizona.

Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) a huge hit for The Delfonics? It was released in late 1969 but charted in 1970 at number 3 hit on the Billboard R&B singles chart and number 10 on the Billboard pop chart 1970. Mitch Easter gives this Philly Soul song a makeover that takes it in a new direction entirely. I’m not quite sure if I like it or not. Anyhow, it is what it is. Give it a listen and post a comment of your take on this song, or any other for that matter.

Sheet, this blog with be a book if I keep adding a paragraph for every song; there are 22 of them. So, here is what I did. I made a playlist with each song from this collection, We All Shine On: Celebrating The Music Of 1970. I then found the original takes and stacked them, the original and then the cover. It was then that I was able to fully appreciate how special each of these covers is and how much some of them actually changed. From my first impression of generic covers to a deep appreciation for every song on the release, boy was I ever wrong. This is window down, volume up, cruising main street music.

https://bigstirrecords.com/home

“Everything Is Beautiful,” every song on this release is beautiful; come on, you can shell out a few bucks to buy the CD or the digital release and support some really good musicians and a top-drawer record company, Big Stir Records.

*Yup, I got the earworm for Yellow River as I relistened to it. Ten Years After, A Space In Time knocked it out.

Stew Clayton

A Legend. Stew Clayton has been recording music with Sunshine Records since 1974. He will always be known as the “The Yodeling Cowboy.” Stew Clayton sings old-time country reminiscent of the greats Wilf Carter and Montana Slim. He also plays and sings similarly to my Dad, and some songs had me singing along like he was in the room with me. I couldn’t find much information about Stew Clayton, but I know he is an Eleven-time World Championship Yodeller.

This video gives a lot of insight into his life and just about every small town across Canada, and it certainly brought back memories for me and the stories my Dad told of his youth. A good example is a story of riding a horse to school and back; I have photos of my Dad on his horse.

insert

Stew tells of being spell-hearing Wilf Carter on the radio and how that radio played such a large part of life back then. Television wasn’t as prevalent when I was growing up, I remember riding the train from Hinton to Vancouver to visit my cousin Wayne, and I discovered Saturday morning cartoons. I was glued to the television, much to the chagrin of Wayne. 

We listened to the radio frequently. I can remember listening to hockey night in Canada on the radio. Family and social outings often had musicians playing, but I was not one of them, I have pictures of playing guitar with my Dad, but he was the musician. I often played my solid body with the amp turned off so I could play along but not sound out of place.

Radio was also where we heard music from people like Wilf Carter and The Carter Family. CFCW became Canada’s first full-time country music station in October 1960, when Curley Gurlock, Mr. D.J. USA of 1957, started on CFCW. 1961 saw the frequency change to the one on every farmer and rancher truck radio, 790 CFCW.

Playing these records by Stew Clayton was a nice walk down memory lane. I was humming and occasionally singing along and playing each record twice for good measure.

A Legend. Stew has been recording music with Sunshine Records since 1974. Stew is most well known for his ground breaking albums the “The Farmer Volume 1” and “The Farmer Volume 2”.

Stew has recorded over 16 albums with Sunshine Records. He will always be known as the “The Yodeling Cowboy”

Stew Clayton sings old tyme country in the style of the greats, Wilf Carter and Hank Williams.

“The People I Meet Are So Beautifully Strange”

The Isle of Barra isn’t far from Tarbert on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, where my paternal great-grandfather was born. Andrew J. Newall finds inspiration when he spends time there. Andy is a talented musician that has released his third full-length album, Resilience.

My talent lies in listening to music. In my experience with playing music, I have found that no matter how many guitars, amps or effects pedals I buy, I still can’t play music. Apparently, I need to practice, which, alas, is my downfall.

It is readily apparent that Andy does practice; he makes music that is smooth as silk and lyrics that pull the listener into the song. Once again, I have the privilege of listening to an artist who tells stories through the medium of music.

The opening track, James and the Lost Ticket, sounds happy and has the line “dreams often can come true”; however, a note of sadness is riding along. The song tells the story of two chance encounters on a railway train. The first instance is the storyteller, James, sitting with Andy on a train, and “without much prompt,” James told his story to Andy. James road the trains each day, hoping to find a train passenger he had met, she had written her name and number on a train ticket that James secreted away in his shirt pocket. Alas, he had lost the ticket and now rode the trains each day, hoping to find her again. This song is an excellent introduction to the album and beautiful stories of Resilience and Andrew J Newall. Andy says this song deals “with the realization that opportunity only knocks once.”

For track three, The Waiting Room, I recommend having a box of tissue paper handy. Any song with the word cancer is bound to be emotional, and The Waiting Room is no exception. Despite the dread of cancer, one line caused me to break into a smile. Read the signs on the Dr.s door. Look around the room, count the tiles on the floor. Trepidation etched on each face.” I have been in more doctors waiting rooms than I care to count, and this line struck my funny bone, so bored that I count the tiles on the floor. Andy says, “dealing with the death of a significant person in your life. Again, the music is bright and lively, not giving in to the solemn nature of the critical topic of “support to a relative with cancer.” I am particularly attracted to Andy’s cadence; good stuff folks

The song “Never Free” tackles the topic of racism, and it does so in a perfect manner through this brave and honest song. This song challenges us to look at the people around us differently. Never Free. Never Free. Never Free.

Following on its heals is “And I Smile,” which caused me to smile. “And I Smile” is a top-of-the-charts song, that has stayed at number one for 7 days. Andy can honestly say that he has a top ten hit. Good stuff, I love it.

The People I Meet Are So Beautifully Strange,” That line alone should vault Andrew J Newall into the waiting room for a Nobel Prize for literature. That fantastic line is from the song My Friends, a beautiful story.

I would recommend the title song just for the music. Some good-sounding licks are going on in the track. The lyrics are equally good, but I am drawn to the poems on the strength of the instruments. Percussion starts the song, and when the lyrics arrive, some tasty guitar licks propel the music forward. “When things get on top of you, you feel that you can’t take much more pressure from every side. Step inside another room, find some quiet space to sit, calm down, and give yourself a break.” Inside the quote above is my reinterpretation of Andy’s words.

There are more great tracks on this album, and you should treat yourself to a musical present this week for the excellent work you have done at home and in the office. The light and breezy lyrics that Andy lays down and then envelopes in catchy tunes that aren’t aren’t just about being in love or falling out of love. There is a level of intimacy that challenges us, the listeners, to move beyond the Billboard top of the charts and listen to some intelligent lyrics enveloped in gorgeous music. I would love to spend an evening with Andy. Listening to his songs and the slice of life stories he builds into these fantastic songs. To steal a snippet of music from Kris Kristofferson. Andrew J. Newall is a poet, and he’s a picker who tells excellent stories through the medium of music.

When The Space Between Was So Much Less by Emily Magpie

Emily Magpie’s a somewhat unconventional name. I’ve never had the privilege of meeting anyone with the surname Magpie. I did a short search on the world wide web and found that it is a very, very scarce name. Perhaps Magpie is a stage name; that seems more likely to me. I welcome Emily Magpie to correct me if I am wrong.

Moving right along then for a bit of focus on the tunes. After all, I am not a linguist. The music is beautiful, much like the plumage of a magpie. Take the time to stop and see the iridescence of the Magpie’s feathers; they take my breath away. Emily Magpies’ music has some sonic crossover from a bird to a piece of music. Her music is iridescent because it sounds different every listen. It shimmers and invites us to take a closer look/listen.

I wasn’t able to find much information about Emily Magpie. That can be good because I don’t approach her music with expectations. I can sit back and let the music flow around me. I let my breathing get into a rhythm with the song, and just as I get comfortable, the music jumps out of the speakers and jars me into a new flow.

All of the tracks on this EP have the prefix Re. Now, what’s a prefix? It’s a string of letters or words added at the front of root words to change their meaning; the English prefix Re means occurring again or repeating. On this EP, we have ReFlow, ReForward, ReFocus and ReBend. Emily Magpie has her music flowing again, which tells us that it was flowing at one point in time, then stopped and is now flowing again. I wonder if this alludes to her music. She felt in the groove, flowing wherever the music was taking her. And then it stopped, Covid perhaps? But now it is ReFlowing, post-Covid.

ReFocus

ReForward, moving forward again. ReFocus, being in focus again. And ReBend, bending again?

So here is my theory on the state of the music that Emily Magpie is presenting to us, the listeners. Her music was flowing, and life was good. She was moving in a good direction, forward. She was focused and flowing forward. Now, this is the tricky part, ReBending. I suppose it could indicate a certain amount of flexibility, being able to bend without being broken. Yeah, I’ll go with that wild guess.

The music is as eclectic as the names. Emily Magpie uses a lot of tech toys in her music, drum beats, synths, Musique Concrète and sampling, to name a few. I have dabbled in creating music with digital toys, and it isn’t easy to be as good as Emily Magpie. On ReFlow, she builds layers and layers of music that climb to a crescendo and then descends graciously to allow the next track to come at us.


That track is ReForward, and it confuses me. It has drumming and chanting that sounds like the First Nations music I heard playing at a park just a few days ago. The track allows that sampling to drift in and out of the tune as it continues to move forward. Forward again. ReForward.

ReFocus is a mix of protest chants, jazz, electronica and raw energy. I don’t necessarily get what the track is ReFocused on, but I enjoy focusing my attention on the tune and listening to it several times to feel the depth of the track. Wonderful music, simply wonderful.
ReBend is more chilled and laid back. It lets us settle down, ReBend from the dynamic sounds that precede it. A friendly, gentle closer to the EP.

Bottom line, it took me several listens to get into the groove with this EP, but when I did, it was magical. Totally worth the time and energy to get there. I don’t know if I grasp what Emily Magpie is telling us through the medium of music, but I had a good time listening to the music. I recommend this EP and give it a 5-star rating.