15
Apr

Shivaree — “Goodnight Moon”
(from I Oughtta Give You a Shot in the Head
for Making Me Live in This Dump
) —

In honor of last night’s total lunar eclipse — in which the moon passed through the darkest parts of Earth’s shadow on the same night that Mars made its closest approach to Earth (hardly a near-miss at just over fifty-seven million miles, but nonetheless close enough to cast an eerie red pall over the moon’s reflection) in about six years — that lit up social media like a Roman candle as Monday faded into oblivion, I can think of no better tune to serve as the soundtrack for some ravishing photographic evidence of the galactic traffic jam. (The top photo is from The University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory, and the bottom photo is from Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, Calla-forny.)

 

14
Apr

Pete Yorn — “Burrito” (from Day I Forgot) —

Convenience store comestibles may well not be the preferred romantic motifs of priests and poets. But just try to name a pop song that better captures the kinetically heady rush of new love.

13
Apr

David Gray — “Gulls” (from Mutineers) —

Don’t tell me the universe doesn’t love me when it gives me a new Tori Amos single and a new David Gray single in the same calendar week. Such a pity then, is it not, that this song isn’t a bit more — uh — enjoyable that what we’ve come to expect from this infinitely brilliant Irishman. My gut reaction upon first listening to this track was that Gray is far too gifted to settle for turning in a second-rate Bon Iver impression, and though “Gulls” comes alive a bit in the tune’s more sonically absorbing back half, I can’t even try to claim I’m not disappointed to see David — who, a decade and a half ago, with a shattering recording called White Ladder, nearly singlehandedly rescued the idea of the male singer-songwriter as a commercially viable thing — meekly following trends he used to set.

4
Apr

Aloe Blacc — “The Man” (from Lift Your Spirit) —

The thunderously soulful voice behind Avicii’s autumn smash “Wake Me Up” steps into the solo spotlight with a killer track and an able assist from the most recognizable lyric that Bernie Taupin likely ever penned for Elton John to sing. Just try getting this one out of your head after one listen.

2
Apr

O-Town — “We Fit Together” (from O-Town) —

Billboard reported the welcome news earlier this week that O-Town — a minor blip in the much-ballyhooed boy band revolution of the early aughts — is back in commission after a decade-long dormancy. Ready-made for reality television and then immediately placed under the tutelage of music legend Clive Davis, the band labored mightily but ultimately couldn’t overcome the misfortunes of circumstance, as bubblegum pop was on its way out of fashion when these boys were trying to lodge their collective feet in the doorway, and they managed to score one major hit (2001′s “All or Nothing,” a ballad whose chorus we can all still sing from memory, whether we like it or not) and a couple of minor ones — including this slinking, sexy, not-subtle-at-all ode to, well, sharing the night together — before fading into the dustbin of obscurity inside of two years. (I feel no shame in admitting that this was one of my favorite pop songs of its day, and when I read the news that these guys were reuniting, it was literally the first thing that popped into my brain. And while one can’t quite claim that it has aged as well as, say, the majority of Hanson’s gems have, “Together” still has its own likeable and uniquely brainless charms. So I still dig it; sue me.)

1
Apr

Serena Ryder — “Mary Go Round” (from Harmony) —

The force behind one of 2013′s most thrilling triumphs, the riveting Ryder stole the show at this past weekend’s Juno Awards (Canada’s answer to the Grammys), walking away with trophies for Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. (One of the tunes for which she wound up in the winner’s circle was her staggering smash “Stompa” — whose praises I pumped to the heavens in this very space last fall — so if you think I in any way quibble with these award choices, you’re officially nuts.) As is true of a number of Canadian singer/songwriters whose names don’t start with the syllables “Sarah Mack” (hi, Jann Arden; hey, Chantal Kreviazuk), we at the Buzz are still waiting — patiently — for ‘Murrica to wake up and make this gal the supastar she so richly deserves to be; in the meantime, we’re letting the act of digging into the heart of Serena’s brilliant breakthrough album its own reward.

31
Mar

Tori Amos — “Trouble’s Lament”
(from Unrepentant Geraldines) —

I know it’s been months since the Hive has blasted some sweet tuneage (so many, in fact, that I literally just had to walk myself through a twenty-minute primer on how I used to format these posts to make them look as pretty as possible), but the Goddess is back — always a cause for celebration — and seemingly channeling her inner Joan Baez on this foreboding and fascinating leadoff single from her latest album (due May 13). La Amos has been off on a bizarro tangent for much of the last decade — the holiday record was fab, but the so-called 21st-century song cycle project was strictly so-so, and there wasn’t a single track on 2012′s Tori-covers-Tori effort that wasn’t better the first time around — but “Lament” feels very much like a sequel to “Don’t Make Me Come to Vegas” (a slinky, sizzling high point from Amos’ ball-busting 2002 epic Scarlet’s Walk), and if that’s the creative direction in which Tori’s aiming her arrow for her latest record, I’m here for that. All. Day. Long.

4
Nov

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31
Oct

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13
Oct

Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton — “You Can’t Make Old Friends”
(from You Can’t Make Old Friends) —

Thirty years, precisely to the month, since an innocuous little Bee Gees ditty called “Islands in the Stream” shot to the top of urry chart and helped cement Kenny and Dolly — the (never-were-a-)couple with enough combustible chemistry to burn down a thousand laboratories — as worldwide superstars, the pair have reunited on the slightly sappy lead single from Rogers’ first studio album in nearly a decade. You might argue they had stronger material the first time around, and you might be right, but there’s no denying that old black magic — whatever odd alchemy develops betwixt these two whenever they share the same space — hasn’t faded one damn milligram. These two voices, blended in sweet, stirring harmony? Still money, honey.

9
Sep

Phillip Phillips — “Gone, Gone, Gone”
(from The World from the Side of the Moon) —

Do you ever bet that Mumford & Sons wish this Phillips punk would go back to wherever the hell he came from? Sure, they get all the album sales and critical love and Grammy glory, but then this poor socially awkward gravelly-voiced child comes along and essentially apes the Mumford sound wholesale — perhaps buffed up with a slightly poppier sheen — and steals all the mainstream radio airplay right out from under them. (A nifty trick our favorite Idol grad in forever has pulled off here, but how long until top 40 grows bored with the apparent one trick this kid can successfully perform?)

6
Sep

Serena Ryder — “Stompa” (from Harmony) —

Pity the plight of the poor Canadian songstress, who eternally seems to face a steep climb when trying to broaden their audience stateside. (Indeed, for every Joni Mitchell or Sarah Mac that breaks through the din of noise, there’s a Chantal Kreviazuk and a Jenifer McLaren wondering why the hell they can’t get themselves arrested south of Saskatchewan.) This ravishing track has been a sensation at adult radio for most of the summer and now faces a tough transition to top 40; I strongly suspect this tune might require the exact same tender loving care that made Emeli Sandé’s deliciously nifty “Next to Me” a hit a full year after the album dropped, but this oddball opus feels to me like a sleeper smash just waiting to happen. A single of the year contender, without question.

2
Sep

Daniel Merriweather featuring Adele — “Water and a Flame”
(from Love and War) —

I heard a rumor — that’s a damn lie, I read it in Billboard last week — that none other than Celine Dion is covering this criminally overlooked gem on her next album (due in November). And while I’m trying hard not to pre-judge this endeavor as anything other than a massive creative folly before actually having heard Dion’s take on it, if her decision to give this tune whatever would be the pop-star-equivalent of a papal blessing actually ends up driving much more attention to the original version than it has won heretofore — odd, particularly when you take into account the ginormous scale of Adele’s coming-out party a couple of years ago — that can’t be a bad thing.