Songs for the apocalypse: Loudon Wainwright III “Pretty Good Day”

In 1999 Loudon Wainwright released an album which was comprised of various topical and satirical songs, originally produced for National Public Radio and based upon then-current issues and events, such as the Tonya Harding scandal, the O. J. Simpson murder trial, and the lead-up to Y2K. The last track on it was perhaps the most evocative and it hit me like a ton of bricks the first time I heard it, a satire on the ordinariness of life without war which many in the West take for granted: “I turned the tap, there was cold there was hot. I put on my coat to go to the shop. I stepped outside, and I didn’t get shot. It’s a pretty good day so far.”  It still resonates today, perhaps more than ever in these frightening times.

Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul “Superfly Terraplane” – Listen

Steve Van Zandt – Little Steven – is what we like to call a legend.  See his body of work and despair at your own achievements.  At the moment he’s reviving his own band – the Disciples of Soul, they toured the UK last year, they have a new album – ‘Summer of Sorcery‘ – out the first week of May and they are kicking some on this song.  A proper rock band with a sizeable horn section for that soul sweetening, they power through this track mocking the squares as they go “My generation ain’t pussys we don’t need guns to have a blast, take that second amendment and stick it up your arse“.

The Strumbellas “Running Scared” – Listen

If you want to talk about infectious then ‘Running Scared‘ is right up there with measles – pass through a room where this tune had been played four hours earlier and you’d still find your toes tapping to its irresistible beat.  The front man of the Canadian psych-influenced alt-rock folk flecked Strumbellas, Simon Ward, has described the album ‘Rattlesnake‘ from which this track comes as “about one main character: this guy, me, who’s out there following his dream to have his music heard, but at the same time, he’s just trying to get home.  The reason it’s called Rattlesnake is because it’s about him facing his fears head on. Shedding his skin, evolving, and realizing he’s got these three kids that he’s responsible for. Little humans, they’re more important than anything. They have a way of really anchoring you.

RUNAH “Ground” – Listen

If you like your folky singer-songwriters to spin the occasional eldritch tale, shot through with a relentless wyrd, then we’ve good news for you – you’ve come to the right place!  This song takes supernatural imagery couples it to grumbling guitar lines and applies the result to a relationship that might be going right – but maybe not.  ‘Ground‘ comes from RUNAH’s upcoming album ‘Strange‘.

Filthy Friends “Last Chance County” – Listen

Remember when everyone claimed to have a punk sensibility which they were bringing to their music?  Filthy Friends certainly do.  And who are Filthy Friends?  Well  Sleater-Kinney co-founder Corin Tucker, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and indie stalwarts Scott McCaughey and Kurt Bloch.  This song is Tucker’s scathing attack on complacency and the state of the world: “I had this long poem growing in my brain,” she says. “It turned into a sort of manifesto about the kind of place we are at as a country but also as a region. Just taking stock of where we’re at and feeling like I can’t believe we let things get this bad.

The Felice Brothers “Poor Blind Birds” – Listen

The Felice Brothers pull out all the soulful country stops on this bleak vision of reality that makes up the latest single to emerge in advance of the new album ‘Undress’.  There’s acceptance though in the refrain “we live in a world we can’t understand / poor blind birds, if we’re anything / and the world is not what it seems / to poor blind birds“.  Not a song to party to, but a song that dares to explore depths of despair.  Our kind of song, in short.

Songs for the apocalypse: Fruit Bats “From a Soon to be Ghost Town”

Occasionally, very occasionally, you come across a song where the first time you hear it you know it’s going to be one of those Desert Island Disc tracks which stays with you for the rest of your life. I first heard this song by Chicago’s Fruit Bats only 2 years back in the middle of a very wet field in the Brecon Beacons, and almost wept for joy at the melody and arrangement which had echoes for me of the Jayhawks at their best. As the line goes, “It’s hard to be a queer one in a place with no queer ones, At least none who’d admit that they were.” Which made me think, where has this track been all my life?

Field Medic “Used 2 Be A Romantic” – Listen

Field Medic is Los Angeles-based folk artist Kevin Patrick, and this song from his new album ‘Fade into the Dawn’ (out April 19th).  It was inspired by a terrible gig – but Kevin Patrick  tells it best “I’m not the kind of person that feels like people should pay attention to me just because I’m standing there on the stage – I’m more than willing to work for it, but when it becomes obvious that I’m not even going to get that chance it can feel very disheartening. This particular show was a record breaking case of what my friends & I call “clam chatter”. I powered through the set & walked off stage early. Disgruntled, all I wanted was to go have a smoke & get a few drinks in me to forget what just happened, but since I was far from home & tour without a tour manager or merch person I had to put my stuff away & immediately face the fray to go stand around at merch hoping to make some sales to turn the night around in some spiritually meaningless, but financially sound way.

Track Premiere – JD And The Straight Shot “Invisible”

The new album from JD and the Straight Shot is called ‘The Great Divide‘, and saw the band convening at Nashville’s Sound Stage Studios for an all acoustic recording.  JD is Jim Dolan and he leads a band of friends who have all had wide and varied musical careers outside the band – playing with the likes of B.B. King, Robert Plant, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Levon Helm, and Miranda Lambert amongst many others.  When they get together as JD and the Straight Shot they like to concentrate on songs with a story tell. Continue reading “Track Premiere – JD And The Straight Shot “Invisible””

Track Premiere – Nicholas Mudd “Sailing Song”

Nicholas Mudd grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, surrounded by horse country and lush farmland, and  Mudd found himself immersed in country, southern rock, and traditional folk music. It was evident from a young age that he had inherited his grandfather’s musical interests. Leonard  Mudd, now 95, always had a collection of guitars, mandolins, fiddles, dulcimers, and banjos sprinkled around his home, and still manages to make music from time to time. Continue reading “Track Premiere – Nicholas Mudd “Sailing Song””