This Week’s Theme: Music from 2021 (So Far)
Ms. Faux and I are always discovering new music recommendations and we decided to sit down this week and “drop the needle” on a bunch of them. This week’s show is a Super Theme that pulls together thirty one songs released throughout 2021 so far. I didn’t include any artists who have already been included as “New” on a previous Faux Show, so there are plenty of artists and songs that could have been included but aren’t. This week’s selection includes music across genres, styles, and countries, and is not meant to be a “Best of the Year (So Far)” list. Instead, it a selection of some songs that we liked at first listen and some we’ve been digging for a while. Some songs are by new artists we’ve listened to this year, some are by artists we’ve never listened to before this week, and some are by old artists that we always enjoy.
Welcome to Radio Faux Show number twenty-eight.
First things first – click a link to start listening and then come back to read about this week’s songs.
New Music: An Open Mind
Having spent many years discussing music with other music geeks, one of the common qualities I have seen in music geeks is a lack of acceptance of new music if it doesn’t sound like music the person already knows or likes. Some of the most open-minded people I know are 180 degrees to the extreme when it comes to new music. I know people who won’t listen to any music by an artist from after the ’80s, won’t listen to anything that doesn’t have electric guitars, won’t listen to anything that is soulful or has a groove, won’t listen to jazz, won’t listen to rap, won’t listen to anything but rap, won’t listen to anything with a singer who can actually sing, won’t listen to musicians who can actually play their instruments, won’t listen to anything noisy, won’t listen to anything that isn’t noisy – I think you get the picture. This is unfortunate because there has never been as diverse a time in modern music as now. Access to all cultures and genres via streaming technology and reissues of old recordings from around the world allows all music to influence all artists who have discovered it.
New Music: Ecclesiastes 1-9
If you spend fifty years listening to music, at some point you realize that the old adage is true – there is nothing new under the sun. If one reads online reviews and articles about the artists on this week’s show they will find a lot of statements that the artist offers a new sound or that the artist has created a new style of music. In truth, it often takes years for a new style of music to be created, and most new styles of music are often simply changes to modern styles, technologies, and sounds that are already familiar to the listener. It is extremely difficult to create something entirely new. The most iconic example is Elvis Presley, who appeared to most of America to drop from the sky out of nowhere, but was really just a new presentation of music that had been developing for years. The same can be said about all of our 20th century icons considered foundational, such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, The Ramones, Metallica, Run DMC, and on and on. Possibly the most successful new artist of 2021 is Olivia Rodrigo, and she has already been accused of stealing music from several artists, including a lawsuit against her by the band Paramore. But as Elvis Costello so clearly explained, “It’s how rock & roll works. You take the broken pieces of another thrill and make a brand new toy. That’s what I did.” This has been true since before Beethoven blatantly ripped off Mozart, and it will always be true. The foundation of hip hop is the appropriation of other artist’s work. Western music influences the east. Eastern music influences the west. Latin music influences non-Hispanic artists. Metal has spread throughout the world. And all along this musical evolution, artists take these new sounds, combine them with what they already know, and create new music. What’s old is new again, and that is what makes listening to new music so refreshing.
The first three songs on this week’s show, Wet Leg, Sunwoo Jung-a, and The Linda Lindas, are three very different songs that showcase the impact of female artists on the music of 2021. There are thirteen female artists on the show – there could have easily been more – and the first three are probably my favorite selections in this week’s show. Wet Leg’s “Chaise Longue” is THE song of the summer of 2021, Sunwoo Jung-a’s “Buffalo” is one of Ms. Faux’s picks for Korean song of the year, and The Linda Lindas are a group of tweens/teens who are the real voice of teen angst in 2021 (sorry Olivia Rodrigo). The Linda Linda’s latest single was recorded live at a public library – now that is punk rock, and makes me think back to all-ages, daytime punk/hardcore shows back in the ’80s.
New music by old favorites like Weezer, Liz Phair, and Amos Lee, plus new music by REALLY old favorites like Wanda Jackson, Robert Plant, and Jackson Browne are always a fun surprise when the music is actually good.
Many of these artists really know how to groove. From old school funk and soul to neo-Afrobeat to modern jazz fusion, there is an endless supply of new music out there to keep you grooving for weeks on end. The new releases from Jon Batiste (bandleader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) and Cochemea (former saxophonist for The Dap-Kings) are just two of about ten groove-tastic songs on this week’s show.
Artist of the Week: Liz Phair
I’m sure there were some people who followed the career of Liz Phair in Chicago in the early ’90s, but for most of us her 1993 debut Exile in Guyville came out of nowhere and crushed all of the competition. Exile was the #1 indie album of 1993 and is a classic of the genre. It is still considered by many to be one of the greatest albums of all time, by any artist, in any genre, and is certainly one of the most influential albums ever released by a female artist.
After her incredible initial success, Phair released several albums over the next ten years, and suffered the constant critical attacks that so many indie artists, especially females, suffer after they peak so soon. She was considered not commercial enough and too commercial for the same records. She was a sell-out, a failure, and a has-been before she ever had a chance to mature. Since 2005, she had released only one album, so having a new release this year is a great surprise and a welcome recording. Much like Fiona Apple, who had only released one album since 2005 and put out a new album last year, Liz Phair is beloved by her fans and any music she makes is a gift. She’ll never get the credit she deserves, but every female rock artist to come after her is standing on a foundation laid by her and other female artists of her time such as L7, Babes in Toyland, The Breeders, and Sleater-Kinney.
3 Chunks of Funk
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio “Call Your Mom”: This is from the second album, I Told You So, by this award-winning, #1-charting, jazz-groove trio.
The Bamboos (featuring Durand Jones) “If Not Now (Then When)”: The Bamboos are an Australian funk/soul band who have been recording for over twenty years. This song is from their album Hard Up. Durand Jones is the leader of Durand Jones and the Indications, a band who just released their third album in July.
Aaron Frazer “Bad News”: Aaron Frazer is a drummer, vocalist, and founding member of Durand Jones and the Indications. This has been a busy year for Frazer. This song is from his 2021 solo debut, Introducing…, and The Indications just released their third album, Private Space.
Let’s Take a Trip Around the World (in 2021)
Sofia Rei “Un Mismo Cielo”: Sofia Rei has been recording for about fifteen years. In addition to her recordings, which include a variety of styles sung in several languages, Rei collaborates with a variety of NY artists and is very active in organizations devoted to awareness of South American art and culture.
Marcelo Monteiro “Kahkoon”: This is from saxophonist Monteiro’s 2021 album Deyeh.
Martox “Pausa”: Martox are a duo who create a modern mix of Dominican music and EDM.
Juls “Love Me”: Juls is one of the leaders of neo-Afrobeat music. This is from his upcoming album Sounds of My World which releases in October.
BLK JKS “Running/Asibaleki”: South African rock band BLK JKS have been around for fifteen years, but this is from only their second album.
A Little Jazz
The Fantastics! “Oblique”: This is from the group’s new album Take a Shot, a collection of funk, soul, and jazz tunes with a steady groove throughout.
Brandee Younger “Reclamation”: Brandee Younger is an award winning harpist who has worked with a variety of artists over the last ten-plus years. This is from her latest release Somewhere Different. In addition to over a dozen different collaborations in less than a year, she was one half of the duo who produced one of 2020’s best albums, Force Majeure by Dezron Douglas and Brandee Younger.
Chris Potter “Mother of Waters”: Chris Potter has enjoyed an extremely prolific 30-year career as both a session player and combo leader. This track is from his new album There is a Tide, which releases in October. There is a nice Coltrane feel to this and his other most recent recordings.
Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die
ABBA “I Still Have Faith In You”: After over two years of hinting, new ABBA recordings are finally coming out. This sounds like late period ABBA. It isn’t fantastic, but I think their fans will take anything they release and be happy.
Jackson Browne “Downhill From Everywhere”: This new record sounds as much like Jackson Browne’s late ’70s/early ’80s work as you could expect this many years later. He has always been a political songwriter, and after fifty years he still isn’t backing down.
Billy Idol “Bitter Taste”: The first of several new Billy Idol songs to be released soon. The video is a nice look back at Idol’s life. This is much better than I think most of us would have expected.
Wanda Jackson “You Drive Me Wild”: This is what I wrote about Wanda Jackson in Faux Show # 14:
Wanda Jackson began her career as a country artist, but in the late ’50s she shifted her style to the newly popularized rockabilly sound of artists like Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. She is a rockabilly pioneer and the first popular female rockabilly artist. For this reason, she is also one of the first female rock and roll artists. Although she shifted back to a very successful country career in the ’60s, she is one of the true unsung heroes of rock and roll. She was raunchy and didn’t give a shit – she was Joan Jett 25 years before Joan Jett.
So it makes perfect sense that Joan Jett loaned her band The Blackhearts to Wanda Jackson and produced Jackson’s new album Encore. Although the album is much more country than rock and roll, it is a nice career bookend to Jackson’s early recordings of over sixty years ago.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss “Can’t Let Go”: The long awaited follow up to the 2007 collaboration, Raising Sand, by Led Zep vocalist (Plant) and bluegrass legend (Krauss) is coming out later this year. This first single is a cover of a song written by Randy Weeks that is best known from Lucinda Williams’ 1998 album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.
Thanks for listening (and reading)!
|Track||Artist||Song Title||Month of Release|
|1||Wet Leg||Chaise Longue||June|
|3||The Linda Lindas||Oh!||July|
|4||Weezer||Sheila Can Do It||May|
|5||Amythyst Kiah||Black Myself||June|
|7||Ladyhawke||Think About You||October (Pre-release)|
|8||Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio||Call Your Mom||January|
|9||The Bamboos (featuring Durand Jones)||If Not Now (Then When)||May|
|10||Aaron Frazer||Bad News||January|
|11||Sofia Rei||Un Mismo Cielo||June|
|16||Jon Batiste||I Need You||March|
|18||Menahan Street Band||Midnight Morning||February|
|21||Chris Potter||Mother of Waters||October (Pre-release)|
|22||Sharon Van Etten||Like I Used To||May|
|23||Liz Phair||Spanish Doors||June|
|24||Cavetown||Ur Gonna Wish U Believed Me||June|
|25||Amos Lee||Worry No More||August|
|26||Brandi Carlile||Right On Time||October (Pre-release)|
|27||Robert Plant and Alison Krauss||Can’t Let Go||November (Pre-release)|
|28||Wanda Jackson||You Drive Me Wild||August|
|29||Jackson Browne||Downhill From Everywhere||July|
|30||Billy Idol||Bitter Taste||September|
|31||ABBA||I Still Have Faith In You||September|
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