Who Knows Where the Time Goes?
In 1967, Sandy Denny, then with the band The Strawbs, asked the question “Who Knows Where the Time Goes? ” Certainly not me. Just in the last year, I recovered from brain surgery and retired from the computer tech world. I then started the podcast “Tunes Past to Present”, with the working title of “New Music for Old Farts.” That project was abandoned a few months later in favor of this blog, which now has 56 posts since last January. All of this change while dealing with a pandemic has me a little loopy. Where did the time go? I have no idea.
While I try to keep a regular flow of commentary and reviews, I won’t write for the sake of a timeline. As releases come in batches, so does my work. That means that there are some weeks when I don’t publish anything; Other times I can’t keep up with the new releases, concerts, and occasional remembrances. Sometimes, I just don’t get to good albums that come out in the midst of a big batch of others. In the spirit of the New Year, I wish to somewhat right that wrong with a quick review of the albums I never got a chance to review but wish I had.
Courtney Barnet, Things Take Time, Take Time. Courtney Barnet is a country folk singer whose music is reminiscent of Lone Justice/Maria McKee mixed with Cowboy Junkies-style 80s Roots Rock. For those of you who don’t remember Lone Justice and lead singer Maria McKee, you have my sympathies. If you’re too young for 80’s roots rock or just want a modern take on it, you couldn’t do better than Things Take Time, Take Time.
The War on Drugs, I Don’t Live Here Anymore. The War on Drugs, and this album in particular, is classic retro folk rock. It’s jangly like R.E.M., folksy like Bruce Springsteen, and pop enough like The Waterboys. In other words, this is a very 80s sounding album. “Victim” has that drum machine and shimmering guitar sound endemic to 80s pop. The title track, “I Don’t Live Here Anymore” seems like a Don Henley outtake that could have been at home on Miami Vice. The rest of the album is as if R.E.M. and Bob Dylan had children and they formed a band. It’s just a great album.
Japanese Breakfast, Jubilee. You probably don’t need my notes on this album – it’s been extensively covered in the music press. In case you missed all the reviews, this is one of the better crafted indie pop albums of 2021. Yes, the vocals are a bit twee but that fits the vibe so well. The songs are light and airy, even when the subjects aren’t. The word “intimate” pops into my head a lot with this album. You get a feel for the person, Michelle Zauner, behind Japanese Breakfast. Even so, it’s not slow or dull, just not rambunctious. This is a good Sunday Morning having-my-coffee album.
Yola, Stand for Myself. For the most part, Yola can be described as somewhere between gospel and the blues. Not so much with Stand for Myself. With this album, Yola jumps on the retro music bandwagon, producing an album dripping in 1970s soul and even disco. The second song on the album, “Dancing Away in Tears” is a clear indicator of the path the album is taking. It would be very much at home at Studio 51 in 1978. In the hands of a lesser artist, this would be another of those 2021 “let’s try out some old stuff” moments that makes me wretch. Thankfully, it’s Yola.
There are a few others that I like, including the new Nathanial Rateliff and the Night Sweats album, The Future and TORRES’, Thirstier. I just haven’t listened to them enough to provide a solid review. Still, I would recommend them as just good music. Maybe as the pandemic heats up this winter, and things I like to do get cancelled, I’ll revisit them for full on deep dives.
In the meantime, have a happy new year and enjoy all the new music out there.