Here’s the list of songs played on the last episode of THE ART MOVEMENT – the weekly radio show about arts and culture, where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed, hosted by Matt Micucci. (To listen to the full show, scroll to the bottom of the page.)
Release Radar is a playlist of new music created by Spotify and based on your personal taste. I have widely ignored it in the past but in the interest of constantly discovering new music, I have decided to start regularly engaging with it. For this feature, I listen to five random songs on the playlist and provide some feedback on each track.
Ella Fitzgerald, “Somewhere in the Night” (Live)
Ella Fitzgerald is known as the First Lady of Song for good reason. Her impeccable vocals are clearly on show in this intimate piano duet with Tony Flanagan recorded at a 1964 French gig. Part of a new expansive compilation titled The Complete Piano Duets, this version of the relatively little-known Mack Gordon song “Somwehere in the Night” is not only a showcase for her purity of tone but also shows how she could have fun performing a piece. The audience appreciates and even laughs, charmed, at the end.
Nina Simone, “Liberian Calypso”
Nina Simone spent quite a bit of time in Liberia, and this song is inspired by her stay in the West African country in the mid-’70s. It is one of the upbeat, danceable tracks on the Fodder On My Wings – indeed, it describes an incident when she went to a discotheque and danced naked on the tables for hours on end. Simone actually regarded Fodder on My Wings as one of her favorite albums that she made. It had fallen under the radar and been underrated among the many gems of her discography but recently got the re-release it deserves.
The Strokes, “Bad Decisions”
The Strokes was one of the bands of my teens and early twenties. It’s nice to see they’re still around and going strong. Their new single, “Bad Decisions,” is relatively simple yet effective. It remains true to their identity as a garage band. It is also complete with jaunty indie guitar-work, a danceable drum beat and a melody that is both catchy and delightful. Not quite as ingenious as much of the material on Is This It but certainly a noteworthy addition to The Strokes songbook.
Bill Evans, “When You Wish Upon a Star”
Bill Evans is one of the most influential jazz pianists of all time. This version of the Disney Classic, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” was originally featured on his in 1963 quintet record Interplay. Yet, it makes this month’s new release list because it appears on a brand new set highlighting recordings from the career of electric guitar pioneer Jim Hall, who steals the show bringing in the recognizable melody of the original tune in the final part of the 5-minute take. Much of the rest is a enchantingly brooding.
JP Saxe, “If the World Was Ending” feat. Julia Michaels
A JP Saxe song inspired by a recent Los Angeles earthquake, which provides the backdrop for what sounds like a half-assed proposition for a little Netflix-and-chill. It wouldn’t be such a bad song if it wasn’t also so damn annoying with all the production tinkering and voice alteration that are distracting for no good reason. Less is, sometimes, best. This song comes across as annoying as Julia Michaels’ peculiar enunciation. The worst part of the song is when she is awkwardly introduced in the second verse.
Release Radar is a playlist of new music created by Spotify and based on your personal taste. I have widely ignored it in the past but in the interest of constantly discovering new music, I have decided to regularly start engaging with it. For this feature, I listen to the first five songs listed on the playlist and provide some feedback on each track.
Morrissey, “Love Is On Its Way Out”
Morrissey remains one of my favourite music artists despite everything. Yet, with his new album, I Am Not a Dog on a Chain, due to be released soon, I am fatigued by his dramatic rock sound of these past few years. I dream of a more mellow Morrissey, where he embraces a style more suited to intimacy and smaller venues. In fact, the most exciting part of his new single, “Love Is On Its Way Out,” is easily the arpeggio interlude that precedes the explosive finale. Not even the lyrics have anything new to say.
King Krule, “(Don’t Let the Dragon) Draag You”
I love this languid style of King Krule, making already a second appearance on my Release Radar features. King Krule was my favourite discovery of last year, when I fortuitously came across a performance of “Easy, Easy” at the David Letterman Show from years ago. Since then, I have been fascinated with his melting pot of styles. “(Don’t Let the Dragon) Draag You” presents a haunting sound, driven by slowly strummed guitars. The lyrics are wonderfully enigmatic and the video that accompanies it, which finds the singer/songwriter/producer burning at the stake, just as compelling.
Alicia Keys, “Time Machine” feat. Cedric Gervais
Time has been good to Alicia Keys, as her status by longevity seems to have made her somewhat of a spokesperson for the American recording industry – a fact proven by her hosting the GRAMMYs this year. The new singles from her upcoming album A.L.I.C.I.A. seem promising, though the sound seems to fall just short of mainstream. Perhaps this Cedric Gervais remix of “Time Machine” is an attempt to increase its exposure in the clubs and it has a greater sense of urgency. But I still find the groove and vibes of the slower original song better.
Rita Pavone, “Niente (Resilienza 74)”
As a young vocalist, Italian Rita Pavone’s tomboyish look made her seem quietly androgynous and rebellious. Yet, most of her well-known songs are ballads, and this considerably softened her image. At the age of 74, she now showcases more raw energy than arguably ever before on a new song, “Niente (Resilienza 74),” written by her son. It seems to be a late rebirth for her as a rocker and she certainly seems to have the voice to back up this claim. It will be interesting to see whether an entire LP of this type of music can be as successful and noteworthy.
Diplo, “Heartless” feat. Morgan Wallen and Julia Michaels
American DJ Diplo released last year a collaborative project with country star, Morgan Wallen. A year later, they release a remixed version of “Heartless,” which finds Wallen dueting with vocalist Julia Michaels. The modern country-pop vibes of the track are still there and the melody is quite catchy. Musically, the two versions would be quite similar but while I am not the biggest fan of her diction, Michaels brings a more engrossing theatricality to the song. Yep, I really like this song.