2022: Darling Please

Big Stir Records is proud to announce our first major album release of 2022: Darling Please from celebrated North Carolina singer-songwriter Chris Church. Recorded eleven years ago and seeing full-scale release for the first time in a newly remastered version (courtesy of audio maestro Nick Bertling and adorned with newly tracked backing vocals from Lindsay Murray of Gretchen’s Wheel), the album is out on CD and digital January 21 and features the lead single “Bad Summer”. It’s up for preorder at www.bigstirrecords.comwww.bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com, and on sale everywhere music is sold or streamed on the release date.

The new record sees the genre-hopping Chris Church in full on rock and roll mode, with dominant Crazy Horse-style guitars topped with some of the most immediate and aching vocal performances in Chris Church catalog. The emotionally direct and often elegiac tone of Darling Please derived in large part from its origins: “I made the album in my basement studio,” says Chris Church. “It was and is dedicated with love to my late great brother Mike Church, who’d passed not long prior to my decision to start this project. It was actually the first time I’d played all instruments on an entire album.” The self-produced ethic makes the album a forerunner to last year’s acclaimed, home-recorded Game Dirt, but Darling Please is if anything even more visceral.

Opening with the rough, ready and stately “History” and diving directly into the “Satisfaction”-beat rocker “We’re Going Downtown,” the album pays overt and indirect tribute to Mike Church (who’d played drums on most of Chris’s earlier music) on a number of tracks. The Sugar-inflected “Pillar To Post” finds the singer feeling “like a guest and a host, like taking a walk with my own ghost” while Chris Church describes the loping “Never So Far Away” as “my legit attempt to bridge loss and love, the big struggles, mortality, how the same old stuff still surprises us no matter how repetitive.” “We Could Pretend” channels “all of what it takes to cope… The hugeness is empty, and vice versa” over a “Cinnamon Girl” groove, and closing track “Triple Crown” sees Chris Church on the drums, recreating Mike’s restrained approach from live performances of the song.

Elsewhere, the empathetic backing vocals of Lindsay Murray (who also designed the sleeve art) illuminate the choruses of the single “Bad Summer” and the whole of “Atlantic”. Both tunes are sharp and heartfelt character studies derived from Chris Church’s circle of friends at the time. “I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry” opens with a guitar and piano workout that sets the stage for one of the album’s most indelible choruses, again spotlighting Murray. And “Nepenthean” dives into psychedelic sludge to immersive effect.

Gripping and emotive, Darling Please is a belated but essential addition to the Chris Church catalog, following on the heels of the 2021 relaunches of his SpyderPop Records albums Backwards Compatible and Limitations of Source Tape. More than a relic, it’s a rewardingly rough-hewn gem deserving of inspection and a sincere tribute to a musical and familial brother, and it stands among Chris Church’s very best.

Lost In A Daydream is the second song from the album Flavor Of The Month. Dang it all, the British Canadian in me wants to spell it Flavour. I wonder if I can avoid using that word for the remainder of this blog. Yeah, O.K., the song Lost In A Daydream is a nice tip of the hat to the Beatles. It is a subtle but engaging bit of music-making—well done, Lannie Flowers. The essence of Lannie Flowers can be captured in his own words from 1986: “The two most import things in my life when I was growing up was The Beatles and the Dallas Cowboys.” Lannie Flowers is another artist that I had to search for information about since I hadn’t listened to his music until this landed in my inbox courtesy of the fine folks at www.spyderpop.com and www.bigstirrecords.com.

So here is the low down on Lannie Flowers. He is from Texas. The guitar is his weapon of choice, and Lannie Flowers makes power-pop that gets close to rock and roll at times—putting artists in a genre box, eh, what a fool’s errand. Lannie Flowers is not the fool. He is a genius at making power pop records, and this is his fifth by my reckoning.

If you want your daily dose of pop-rock, Lannie Flowers is an excellent place to listen for it. This album, the name is up above, is one of those records where I jerk my head up like a long dog on a short leash and say, “Hey, that sounds like …’;. And then I can’t quite figure out who the so and so is. Lannie is a master class on making accessible, easy pop music that sounds familiar and fresh at the same time.

What follow below is from the web of these fine folks who save me from the anguish of writing the album name in the lingua franca of the fine folks south of the 49th.

SPYDERPOP RECORDS (and our partners at Big Stir Records) are proud to announce the February 25 release of FLAVOR OF THE MONTH, a brand new album from Texas guitar pop legend LANNIE FLOWERS, on CD and all digital platforms. It’s both a completely new collection and the long-awaited physical media debut for the songs that made up Lannie’s celebrated and groundbreaking March To Home Singles Series in 2019 all newly remixed by Lannie himself and featuring the new lead single “Summer Blue.” Flavor Of The Month is up for pre-order now at www.spyderpop.com and www.bigstirrecords.com and will be streaming, as well as on records store shelves worldwide, on release day. A deluxe vinyl edition including a special bonus CD will follow later in 2022

Telefis and Jah Wobble

Telefis and Jah Wobble release ‘Falun Gong Dancer’ EP and new video. Debut Telefis album ‘a hAon’ is out March 4. That’s the short press intro. Enough to get my attention and the itch to know what Telefis means. To understand what a Jah Wobble is. And finally, what is a Falun Gong Dancer?

I like to learn one new thing every day, sometimes more than one nugget. Today, I learned four new things. Number one is that Telefis is Irish Gaelic for Television, another good band with no connection to this blog. 

Number two is not so much learning as a remembering moment. Jah is one of the names of God and may be more familiar to you in the name of another song, Hallelujah. Which version of the song do you like? Hallelujah has been covered over 300 times. I like the Jeff Buckley version myself.

To wobble is to move unsteadily from one side to the other, to waver and a tonne of other synonyms. So Jah Wobble could be wavering in our faith in God, been there done that. Our impression of God could be that He/She/Jah wobbles and shows a lack of steadiness. The implications of the name Jah Wobble are many. Let’s let that go and focus on the music from Telefis and Jah Wobble.

Telefis and Jah Wobble have a new album out today, January 21. It is an EP, but on endless repeat, it is a mute question of whether it is an EP or an LP. Electronic duo Telefís, composed of Irish iconoclasts (more religious innuendo in that word), Jacknife Lee and Cathal Coughlan, have mixed Falun Gong Dancer with the legendary bass of Jah Wobble (Public Image Limited, Invaders Of The Heart).

Falun Gong is a relatively recent addition to the pantheon of faith movements worldwide. It originated in China in the 1990s and has since evolved into a worldwide business, media and political venture. I couldn’t find any reference to their dancing, so I can only assume that it expresses their faith through movement.

I digress. Let us get back to the music, shall we? As I said previously, I just put this EP on repeat, and I lose track of how many times I listened to it over the last day or two. I don’t exactly know what makes this EP so compelling, but it is. The anatomy of this music is almost as complicated as the meaning of Telefis, Jah Wobble and Falun Gong Dancer. The short explanation is that Telefis have a full-length album coming out this February or March. Telefis have been releasing singles and accompanying videos with various mixes. In November of 2021, I listened to and wrote about a previously dropped single, https://weatheredmusic.ca/2021/11/08/we-need-mister-imperator/.

Telefis are consistently good and play well with others. I like that, and I have my ears primed for what I anticipate will be one hell of an LP. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, listen to this EP and the other mixes from Telefis. I love the 13 minutes of mind-bending good music.

Keep up with Telefís

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‘a hAon’ LP pre-order (CD and Vinyl) https://ffm.to/telefisahaon 
‘a hAon’ LP pre-order (download) 

‘Falun Gong Dancer EP https://bit.ly/3tK5x3f
‘Falun Gong Dancer’ with Jah Wobble https://youtu.be/0vM0EKu9yYQ
‘Falun Gong Dancer’ with Jah Wobble (Donkey’s Gudge Dub) https://youtu.be/2LVm82bka8E
Order the singlehttps://orcd.co/telefisjahwobblefalungong
Telefís – YouTube video playlist https://bit.ly/3qYBpOA

‘Falun Gong Dancer’ (original version) https://youtu.be/lC9DfC2kHas
Order the single
‘Mister Imperator’ single / EP http://ffm.to/telefis_midub
‘Mister Imperator’ (original version)https://youtu.be/DvJlGwXV6IE
‘Mister Imperator (Dub Mix)’ https://youtu.be/Eih5Pcin5_4
‘We Need’ EPhttps://telefis.bandcamp.com/album/we-need-e-p

Richard Evans Sentinel

I have long had a soft spot for New Wave music and the whole scene that revolved around it. The fashion, I was into casual business, a tweed jacket over a pastel shirt with the top two buttons undone with a skinny tie worn inside the collar. Reebok sneakers for footwear and stone-washed jeans completed the dressing. The music went from American bands such as The Talking Heads to the British groups like Ian Dury and the Blockheads and spilled over into the continental scene with Kraftwerk and too many other bands to mention here.

Enough waxing poetically over the fond memories of that era. Fast forward to 2022 and a musician who captures New Wave’s ethos while sounding fresh and exciting. That artist is Richard Evans, and his newly released album is Sentinel. If I could afford vinyl, that platter would be wearing out the needle.

He not only captures the sound of the New Wave, but he also builds on the shoulders (probably padded, think David Byrne) of those who blazed the trail back in the ’70s and ’80s to offer us music that is both retro and new.

This album blows my mind. It captures the sound of the New Wave so well I keep thinking it must be from 1980 instead of today. The synth is so Gary Numan is it often unsettling. This is just one example from an album full of new waves and, at times, even post-wave and hints of New Order.

Sentinel is a strong album that I am sure will get many more spins around the imaginary turntable on my computer. Do yourself a favour and give this a listen, Sentinel by Richard Evans. The album drops on the 25th; just a few more days to wait.

‘Black Rain’ https://youtu.be/0uWljabuu5Q
Sentinel: Creating The Show https://youtu.be/SAeXs1U1ZU8
Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/richard_evans/black-rain/s-0SGhd3nKl5r
Bandcamp https://richardevans.bandcamp.com/album/sentinel
Vinyl pre-order https://www.diggersfactory.com/vinyl/231202
Digital pre-order https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/richardevans/sentinel
Amazon pre-order https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09LRHBFCX
Concert Tickets https://oldfirestation.org.uk/whats-on/sentinel-2/

Star Rover Star Rover

Back in September of last year I gave my opinion on the single Ghosts of New York State by Star Rover, who are two musicians, Will Graefe and Jeremy Gustin. I gave them a favourable rating for the single and was looking forward for the album’s release. 

Somewhere in the wacky world of Norman, I missed the album release, and I am now making up for the lost time. And the lost moments of hearing this album, over and over again.

The album opens with a drone and a brush on a snare. Then the bass drum kicks in, followed by a gritty guitar and some keys. Pause, and restart. Find that sweet spot, the groove. Star Rover does. They settle into a comfortable groove. And then they bring it back to earth with those ever so deliciously distorted guitars. That is just Springs, is just the opener on this self-titled album from Star Rover.

The album is light on lyrical content, but that plays into the strength of their music. I won’t even attempt to put Star Rover in a genre box; they do their own thing. And they do that thing very well indeed.

I heard echoes of King Crimson, Jeff Beck and even something so diverse as Simon & Garfunkel. Mostly I heard Star Rover. I loved the garage band lo-fi power of songs such as Rag Doll. I would love to see them live, Star Rover is a band that I will follow on Facebook and Soundcloud, so I don’t miss anything from them again.

Keep up with Star Rover
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Through early sessions playing together at Gustin’s Bushwick loft in 2011, Gustin and Graefe bonded over their shared love of John Fahey, as well as the spiky post-rock of Deerhoof and Lightning Bolt. Later that year, they recorded Western Winds Bitter Christians’, a short lo-fi collection of grungy Fahey covers and distorted originals. Besides touring the USA, Europe and Japan, they are both in-demand session and touring artists, working with David Byrne, Kimbra, Bill Frissel, Okkervil River, Sam Amidon, Marc Ribot, Delicate Steve and Nels Cline, among others. 

Star Rover’s writing developed towards futuristic post-rock between touring and other recording work. They found themselves connected to the directness of folk melodies, leading to their 2018 album ‘I May Be Lost But I’m Laughing.’ That became a more polished and produced effort featuring Sam Evian, Shahzad Ismailly, Rob Moose (yMusic), Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear) and Sarah K Pedinotti.

The following year, Star Rover collaborated with Brazilian musician (and frequent Caetano Veloso collaborator) Ricardo Dias Gomes. They wrote and recorded ‘This Whole Emptiness’ album in Lisbon at the studio of Marcelo Camelo.

The ‘Star Rover‘ album is now available across digital platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music or at https://ffm.to/starroveralbum or via Bandcamp.

Pre-order the ‘Star Rover’ LP https://ffm.to/starroveralbum

Bandcamp https://starroverband.bandcamp.com/album/star-rover-2 

‘The Springs’ https://youtu.be/BfzQXkmel5A 

Single order https://ffm.to/thesprings 

‘Ghosts of New York State’ https://youtu.be/on1lHy80IcM 

Single order https://ffm.to/ghostssingle 

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Hit The Ground Running

Less than two weeks into 2022, and the music world is exploding between my ears. I have been listening through all my albums alphabetically, all the albums, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am up to David Bowie today and had to pause three albums in. I have found from experience that if I binge-listen to an artist, I risk not wanting to hear any music from that artist for a long spell. So I am going slow and steady on the good ship Bowie.

A litmus test that I frequently use with new music is listening to it, putting it on the shelf, and going back to it later. If I still like it, that passes the litmus test. I have a couple of albums today that passed that test.

First up is Sacred Places by Dope Sagittarius. When I first listened to this album back in May of 2021, I had focused on the music, which was good. Today I focused on the video for their song Black Empress.

Bandcamp https://dopesagittarius.bandcamp.com/album/sacred-places
Vinyl order https://www.buddhabugrecords.com/shop/p/beni-shoga-y62bf-sgpj6
Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/6b2Mmfp4TBKl0n6ZDy2BwK
‘Black Empress’ https://youtu.be/7kebfP5yi80
‘Define Love’

This video is a signpost for the times we live in and, for far too many, the times we die in. The video features violinist Mazz Swift (Whitney Houston, Valerie June). Paris-based hip-hop legend/wordsmith/rap pioneer Mike Ladd. This rocking hip-hop electro soundclash is a song for this Black Lives Matter age. Morgan Freeman directed this video with support from cinematographer Andrew Coury. The Black Empress video was produced by Carlyle Smith with executive Producers Luqman Brown and LaRonda Davis. Filmed at YouTube Studios New York City, it stars Angelana Jones and Anthony BowmanM.C. Whistler on Vox/ guitar, Ernest G. D’Amaso on Bass, Entrified Mcloud on keys Ramsey Jones on drums.

This video is worth the four minutes and 17 seconds of your life that you will spend watching it. It is a far better way to spend that time than watching a cat doing stupid things video on YouTube.

Next up is Loud Apartment. I like that name, Loud Apartment. I have had neighbours knock on my door to turn the music down more than once, and I had a loud apartment. Fortunately, I live in a house now, and I can crank the volume up if I want to.

I first listened to Loud Apartments‘ new album, New Future, in November of 2021, and I have relistened to it over the last two days. It easily passed the litmus test. I like it even more today than I did back in November. Good music can keep sounding good over time, and the album New Future from Loud Apartment retained its fresh sound with flying colours.

Bandcamp https://loudapartment.bandcamp.com/album/new-future
Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/loudapartment
Spotify https://open.spotify.com/artist/35agCFwnA3mZzpwhy0f90j
‘System Breakdown’ LP (2020) https://loudapartment.bandcamp.com/album/system-breakdown

I first listened to An Anthem for the Strange by Black Rose Burning only a month ago, so it isn’t a big gap between the first and second listens. That didn’t dim my respect for Black Rose Burning and this excellent album.

Bandcamp https://blackroseburning.bandcamp.com/album/the-wheel
‘Anthem’ teaser https://youtu.be/Rht5MRB3o54 
‘Automatic Man’ teaser https://youtu.be/FJxh-4hP8B8 
‘No Love Lost’ teaser https://youtu.be/NI1-QTKP6FQ 
‘Solar Angels’ teaser https://youtu.be/Uw6K-n_b6Oc 
‘Black Sun Saturday’ teaser https://youtu.be/OBaGyOj_3IU 
Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/5rgo6CEVqJyQzEbRUlSPYc
Apple Music https://music.apple.com/us/album/the-wheel/1597809360

I was fortunate to listen to a sneak peek of Roman Angelos’s album ‘Music for Underwater Supermarkets,’ the full release of the LP is January 28 via Happy Robots Records. Music for Underwater Supermarkets isn’t Muzak, but it ain’t far away from it. It is good music to chill out with, so grab your beverage of choice, sit back with a good book, and listen to Music for Underwater Supermarkets. It works its magic above water.

‘Swimming Through The Aisles’ https://youtu.be/wa5iOEKNJTA 
Bandcamp https://happyrobotsrecords.bandcamp.com/track/swimming-through-the-aisles 
Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/happy-robots/roman-angelos-swimming-through/s-nSSe2nUjgcq 
Album pre-order https://happyrobotsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/music-for-underwater-supermarkets 
Spotify https://open.spotify.com/artist/1RMBOy3qTuHdPWNJaopTbS

There we go then; a flash shout-outs to David BowieSacred Places by Dope Sagittarius and their video Black Empress, Mazz Swift, Mike Ladd, Loud Apartment, Black Rose Burning, and Roman Angelos.

2022 is shaping up to be a stellar year for music, both old and new. Just before Christmas my son, Joel, gave me a Soundcloud file of my Dad singing and playing. He has passed away but his music will be with us forever.

Happy listening and play safe.

Illuminating Television Personalities While I Scream Quietly

Jerry Jeff Walker

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Bob Dylan

Harry Nilsson

Neil Diamond

David Bromberg

Tom T. Hall

Do you know what all of those artists have in common?

They all appeared on a mixtape that I made sometime in the ’70s. The first name on that list is Jerry Jeff Walker, who wrote the song. All the other names are people who had covered the song, and I had the album in my collection; there was no streaming back then, and a mixtape was literally on tape, cassette in this case. I like the song, and I enjoyed hearing how different people interpreted the song. The best-known cover is by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, which I enjoyed seeing twice at the same venue, just forty years between shows.

Back to the 70s again, I meticulously made the mixtape enjoying every moment and note played. That weekend I got together with some family and friends, and as per usual, I was nominated as DJ for the night since I had the best stereo in my car and the most tapes. Several beers and a couple of joints into the night when I made the ignominious decision to play the Mr. Bojangles mixtape. The first couple of songs went well, but then there was a shift in the party’s momentum; the good vibes were turning into sour notes. Thankfully, someone told me they had heard all the Bojangles songs they cared to listen to for the night and could someone play some good party music. I swapped Mr. Bojangles for some BTO, and the vibes came back into the party.

I say all of this in the context of a release that I streamed. Yeah, I know it’s not the same as a mixtape, but it has some familiar vibes.

Revolution Above Disorder recently debuted with ‘Illuminate,’ a 3-track offering. Produced, mixed and mastered at Jacknife Sound by Jason Corbett of ACTORS, which also featured all other members of ACTORS’ (Shannon Hemmett and Kendall Wooding on backing vocals, Adam Fink on drums) and Josiah Webb of Magic Shoppe on guitar. The video, directed and edited by Eliot Galán of Galán Films, stars Analissa Longoria and Mat Durie. Dublin-based artist Delta Omega a.k.a. Conor Paxton (House of Dolls, Buffalo Sunn, The Brothers Movement), also contributed to the more dance-oriented ‘Illuminate (Delta Omega Remix).’

I was grooving with the first mix, which I assume is the original version mixed by Jason Corbett. It had some good things going for it, and I wanted to hear more by Revolution Above Disorder. Then it moved to the Delta Omega Remix. Not much different but listenable. Then Acoustic Remix kicked in, and it was then that someone shouted to play some party music. Oh, wait! That was me shouting. Nothing wrong with the song, but three in a row was more than I could handle. My shout was answered with the song Scream Quietly, Revolution Above Disorders tribute to Television Personalities.

Yeah, I had to look Television Personalities up, having never heard them before. So much music and so little time, right? I am glad I took the time to familiarize myself with Television Personalities. I don’t know how I missed them for the last 45 years. Their music is right up there with some of my favourites of that era.

I’m going to listen to some more Television Personalities, but before I do, I will throw this out there for you.

Revolution Above Disorder pays tribute to Television Personalities on ‘Scream Quietly,’ produced by ACTORS’ Jason Corbett.


‘Scream Quietly’ on Bandcamp https://revolutionabovedisorder.bandcamp.com/track/scream-quietly-a-television-personalities-cover

Revolution Above Disorder curated playlist https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5oWAfNsagt9wY4kPNI0laI

‘Illuminate’ https://youtu.be/bPu2IXxe3e0 

‘Illuminate (Delta Omega Remix)’ https://youtu.be/LMfVreGvp3w

‘Illuminate’ https://revolutionabovedisorder.bandcamp.com/album/illuminate 

Apple Music https://music.apple.com/us/album/illuminate-single/1584289966 

Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/18V1XQDI77J2EQnyYIOU0i

Dublin postpunk / nugaze / electro artist Revolution Above Disorder presents the single ‘Scream Quietly,’ paying tribute to the groundbreaking band Television Personalities and the songwriting genius of Dan Treacy.

Revolution Above Disorder is the solo moniker of Vancouver-based Dubliner Stephen Nicholas White (The Orange Kyte, House of Dolls, Magic Shoppe). Revolution Above Disorder’s music is a melting pot of postpunk, psychedelic rock and electronic music. This is guitar-based rock augmented by synths, drum machines and heavily treated instrumentation with haunting reverb-soaked vocals.

“The lo-fi outsider-art indie-pop of Dan Treacy’s Television Personalities occupies a place in my heart all of its own. Stylistically all over the map, Treacy’s four decades (and counting) of off-kilter demonstrations of punk and psychedelia are held together by the emotional depth of the songwriting and the vocal delivery, which sees Treacy careering unconstrained from acerbic, to playfully whimsical, to heartbroken and vulnerable. Beautiful,” says Stephen Nicholas White.

This cover originally appeared on ‘Mummy, Mummy Please Look At Me: A Tribute to the Television Personalities,’ released via Dandy Boy Records.

Revolution Above Disorder recently debuted with ‘Illuminate,’ a 3-track offering produced, mixed and mastered at Jacknife Sound by Jason Corbett of ACTORS. Which also featured all other members of ACTORS’ (Shannon Hemmett and Kendall Wooding on backing vocals, Adam Fink on drums) and Josiah Webb of Magic Shoppe on guitar. The video, directed and edited by Eliot Galán of Galán Films, stars Analissa Longoria and Mat Durie. Dublin-based artist Delta Omega a.k.a. Conor Paxton (House of Dolls, Buffalo Sunn, The Brothers Movement), also contributed to the more dance-oriented ‘Illuminate (Delta Omega Remix).’

As of January 11, ‘Scream Quietly’ will be available via Apple Music, Spotify and elsewhere digitally. Scream Quietly can already be downloaded via Bandcamp, where the debut single ‘Illuminate’ is also available.

I am now off to listen to more Television Personalities and quit typing because it is a real pain in the ass with a massive bandaid on one finger that keeps wanting to hit two keys at a time.

Also, keep listening for new music by Revolution Above Disorder; there is a surge of new music coming out of the wet west coast and I’m loving it.

The Beatles On Vinyl

The Beatles have enough catalogue to deserve a blog spot of their own. I am not a completist, which means I don’t have every record of theirs on vinyl, there are some on CD, but I am saving those for another year.

The first Beatles record that I bought was Something New which I just noticed that I do not have a copy of it. I shall have to remedy that situation with a trip to Record Collectors Paradise.

A Hard Days Night is an often-overlooked album, a soundtrack and all. It does have some brilliant moments, and the litmus test is if I enjoyed listening to it or not. I liked it.

Beatles ’65 is a real gem, and I like this album front to back. I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow commentary. Suffice to say; it is gold to me.

Help! (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack). I would not be listening to this outside of my challenge.

Beatles VI. This album showcases what the Beatles probably sounded like in the Cavern. It is raw; It has energy; it has McCartney using his vocal cords in a snarl or growl. Good stuff.

That concludes the genesis of The Beatles, so now we move into the intermediate zone, the pivot point where they start playing with sound and trying new things out, including the lyrics. If I kept top album lists, Rubber Soul would be in the top 100 albums of all time. I don’t make such lists, so it is in the I liked it column. I enjoy this album for its sheer listening magnetism. Rubber Soul is 35 minutes of none stop groundbreaking music. I love it every time it lands on my turntable.

Revolver. What can I say? Taxman, Eleanor Rigby and 11 more captivating songs. Another album that broke new ground and ushered in another chapter of The Beatles’ musical journey.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band I am at a loss when making a short summation of this album. I have always enjoyed this album and continue to do so right up to today. Historically this album has been a game-changer for music. It broke new ground that opened the world of music into prog-rock, thematic albums (although that is still a hot topic), cover art, the use of electronica, and several more. An album that shook the world of pop/rock music and that reverberation is still felt today, some 54 years later. That is a good run that few other albums can boast.

Blue Albums 1967-1970

Red Albums 1967-1970

These two double albums are an excellent summary of The Beatles‘ history on vinyl—a delicious end game for a fantastic band.

Robin Guthrie’s Springtime

I used ‘Robin Guthrie’s Springtime‘ as the header because it is most certainly not Norman Weatherly’s springtime. ‘Robin Guthrie’s Springtime‘ may be taken as an optimistic look forward, but even that could be a long wait. It is not uncommon for winter to linger well into March, a swing month that can go either way, late winter or early spring. April holds more hope for spring weather, with the possibility of some lingering snow and the harbinger of spring more determined than previous months. May, now we are talking about serious springtime. Given the timeline I have laid out for your benefit, this EP is either too early or overly optimistic by about five months. I hope for the latter.

What can be said with certainty is that these are four darn fine pieces of sonic dreamscapes. I can get lost while doing some task with ‘Robin Guthrie’s Springtime‘ playing, and before I know it, the EP comes to an end which necessitates me hitting the repeat button. Robin Guthrie, yes, the one from the Cocteau Twins, has offered up some easy listening that hits the sweet spot. Soothing chill music to ease a troubled mind in the troubled times of Covid.

Following the late 2021 releases of the ‘Mockingbird Love’ EP, the full-length album ‘Pearldiving’ and the ‘Riviera’ EP, the new year brings yet another release by legendary Scottish music sculptor Robin Guthrie.

On January 4th, exactly sixty years after his birth, Guthrie is releasing his ‘Springtime’ EP via his Soleil Après Minuit imprint with distribution in North America via Darla and in Europe by Cargo. These four new titles were recorded in the summer of 2021, soon after completing ‘Pearldiving,’ his first album in nine years.

Springtime‘ is a standalone collection featuring Robin Guthrie‘s ever-present signature sound and atmosphere. His approach to music is perhaps more akin to that of a painter or a photographer. The adept use of light and shade, melody and counter-melody, the carefully and precisely arranged instrumentation, musical textures, and colourings give his music a depth and level of detail which marks a master artisan.

Keep up with Robin Guthrie

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‘Springtime’ EP https://robinguthrie.bandcamp.com/album/springtime
Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/3LOmByf0SD8GqTH0kKhxpu
‘Riviera’ EP https://robinguthrie.bandcamp.com/album/riviera
Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/5ZQ3eZrkx5JqeoyQTgqFIE
‘Pearldiving’ https://robinguthrie.bandcamp.com/album/pearldiving
Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/3qeHLQq8W62NOm4SH9Yya6
‘Mockingbird Love’ EP https://robinguthrie.bandcamp.com/album/mockingbird-love
Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/78iqh8E1w21f5RxVUNXPuq

What Norman Heard In 2021

Chalk up another good year full of good music. I am fond of collecting data on what I have listened to rather than compiling a best-of collection. I do this because no artist is better than any other artist or band. That applies to album releases as well. To me, there are just differences. I listened to 585 different albums this year. That number does not consider the bucket full of singles or Apple curated lists that I listened to in twenty twenty-one or some of the albums I listened to on Apple Music, and it got stuck on repeat.

There are some solid contenders for the most listened-to spot. They are all winners to me. The most frequently listened-to album of 2021 was the perennial favourite, Dark Side of the Moon, with seven listens. We have nine copies of DSotM in our library, and I have been a steady listener of this album since it first landed on my turntable in 1973. I listened to other albums by Pink Floyd as well this year, I simply listen to Dark Side of the Moon more frequently. More frequent than other albums by Pink Floyd and more frequent than any other album in our library.

The second most frequently spun was Exotic Quixotic by Lusitanian Ghosts. I didn’t particularly like this album, but I kept repeatedly listening, hoping it would click eventually. Unfortunately, it never did.

There were several other contenders worth mentioning. The Tender Age by Ward White was a good listen. After white, we have black. As in Black to the Future by Sons Of Kemet. Not as strong as Your Queen Is A Reptile but still a good listen.

The most-listened-to band/artist for 2021 was The Beatles, with 18 album listens. It is interesting to note that out of those 18; there was only one album that got heard more than once. That album waw Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band which I listened to twice.

The top runner-up is a perennial favourite that makes a showing in this list every year, Various.

One most listened-to album within the category of various was Spiritual Jazz: The World. A very well-put-together collection of music that works together seamlessly.

The most-listened-to format in 2021 was streaming, with 337 out of the possible 585. Vinyl only had 120, although it seemed like more. We are in the digital era, so those numbers should be no surprise.

The year of release that I listened to the most was 2021. I heard a lot of new music now that I have been blogging submissions from various sources. 1969 to 1972 were all in double-digit listens as were 1975, 1977, 1979, 1982, 2006, and 2020. A bit of shotgun listening going on there.

I was some other music that moved my heart but didn’t make it onto any list. Here are a few, there are too many to mention all of them.

Cannonball Adderley, Sam Jones, Art Blakey, Hank Jones, Miles Davis on the LP Somethin’ Else from 1958.

King Crimson In the Court of the Crimson King from 1969 and The Great Deceiver series from 2021.

TRAITRS Horses in the Abattoir 2021

Collect Call on The Golden Hour 2021

Anthony OKS on In The Garden 2021

So there it is, what Norman listened to in the year 2021. There was plenty of good music and none in there that I will call a stinker and never listen to again. It’s all good music, just different ways of putting it together.

I want to give a big shout out to some people who helped me with music appreciation this year:

Shauna McLarnon from Shameless Promotion PR contact@shamelesspromotionpr.com.

Johan Larsson from Mystic Sons johan@mysticsons.com 

Jack Dwyer from Mystic Sons jack@mysticsons.com

Johan Larsson from Mystic Sonsjohan@mysticsons.com