What you're about to read is a collection of pointers to some of the music I've discovered on the iTunes Music Store, music I like enough that I want to share it. If you're an iPod owner and an iTunes fan (and if you aren't, what are you doing here?), maybe you'll find something new. Click on any of the CD covers to bounce over to the store and sample a few tracks. And then maybe stop by my other blog for a few well chosen words (and maybe a random snark or two).RSS feed
All the music (502)
  Alternative (67)
   Audiobook (10)
    Blues (3)
     Children's Music (5)
      Classical (28)
       Comedy (10)
        Country (21)

  Dance (4)
   Easy Listening (2)
    Electronic (13)
     Folk (27)
      French Pop (1)
       German Folk (1)
        German Pop (1)

  Hip-Hop/Rap (2)
   Holiday (5)
    Jazz (35)
     Latin (4)
      New Age (8)
       Podcast (5)
        Pop (72)

  R&B/Soul (4)
   Reggae (4)
    Rock (105)
     Soundtrack (32)
      Spoken Word (1)
       Vocal (15)
        World (15)

Have some music to recommend? I can always use a few pointers. Use the comments link at the bottom of the page.
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Wed, 19 Sep 2007

Arms and Legs / Arms and Legs
Arms and Legs What's the best way to experience Arms and Legs? A game of Name That Influence? There are certainly plenty to pick from, and most of them are like shells on the beach just waiting to be collected. Or you could be lazy like me and just enjoy the warm, bouncy and familiar but new sounds as they float by.
[ Category: Folk | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 17 Sep 2007

Music from the Orkney Islands / Allie Windwick & Hugh Inkster
Music has the power to evoke a time and a place, to take us somewhere we've never been and can't even imagine. And so it is with this 1979 recording of a combination of traditional and more contemporary songs (and I dare you to tell one from the other) from the Orkney Islands, ostensibly part of Scotland but, if the album's liner notes and Wikipedia are to be believed, really a world of their own. And one I suddenly have a strong desire to visit, if only the need to actually show up for work tomorrow weren't so very strong. Curse you, 21st century employment! Curse you and all your kind!

Maybe one day...

Music from the Orkney Islands
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Fri, 07 Sep 2007

Golden Wing / Amy White & Al Petteway
I discovered this album by way of Bittersweet ~ an American Romance. Which is nice enough in an instrumental New Agey sort of way, but feels like warmed over Liz Story or maybe Mannheim Steamroller on Valium. But at least it got me here, where I could be charmed Ms. White's folk vocals. Much better, I'm thinking. Golden Wing
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Wed, 02 May 2007

Go From Here / Hiram Ring
Go From Here Let's change tempo, shall we? Go from the ridiculous to the sublime, as my mother might have said if she was feeling particularly clever. Sublime is a good word for Hiram Ring's music; it has a property of smoothing things out, of improving your mood. Mine can certainly use some improving. How about yours?
[ Category: Folk | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 25 Apr 2007

On the Drift / Bedlam Bards
The iTunes Store classifies On the Drift as folk, although filk is probably more accurate. Filk, as most every SF or fantasy con-goer knows, is what happens when folk meets fen, which may or may not be the plural of fan. And the Bedlam Bards are clearly fen, for who else would produce an entire album of f*lk music based on the Jossverse. And not even the whole Jossverse; just the parts we know as Firefly and Serenity. Of course, how much you like On the Drift depends greatly on how you feel about the Big Damn Heroes. Unless you haven't made up your mind about them or, can it be true?, have yet to encounter Cap'n Mal and his motley crew. In which case I'm sure there's somebody willing to share their Firefly DVDs. After all, can't have them Scapers being more generous than Browncoats, can we? That would be wrong. (But true.) On the Drift
[ Category: Folk | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 23 Feb 2007

American Guitar / Pat Donohue
The iTunes Store describes Pat Donohue's style as jaw-dropping. That sums it up pretty well. All I have to add is that Donohue's range of material is every bit as impressive as his technique. I wonder; if I'd heard him when I was attempting the guitar back in my preteen years, would I have been inspired to keep at it, no matter how my hands bled? Or would I have realized in an instant that I'd never have a fraction of his ability and given it up on the spot? He's just that good. (And, truth be told, I wasn't.) American Guitar
[ Category: Folk | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 07 Feb 2007

The Ballad of Lawless Soirez / Gill Landry
The Ballad of Lawless Soirez I was so hoping this album wouldn't suck. I mean, I clicked on the little thumbnail in iTunes entirely on the strength of the cover. I have this weakness for pulp novels and noir and all that depressy stuff from before they invented color. And then I started listening. And wow, this is one book that you almost can judge by its cover. Gill Landry has written a soundtrack for those noir mean streets, wherever we may find them.
[ Category: Folk | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 27 Dec 2006

If Songs Could Be Held / Rosie Thomas
If Songs Could Be Held Somebody needs a hug.

Listening to even a little of Rosie Thomas, I find myself flashing to Animal House. Weird, huh? But work with me. Think of Otter and his frat rat brothers scamming on the coeds of Emily Dickinson. Said coeds would be right at home with Rosie. In fact, I bet if Fawn Leibowitz hadn't been kilned... I mean killed, she might have turned into a sensitive singer/songwriter too. And God knows we could do with a few more sensitive souls in this new century.

[ Category: Folk | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 29 Nov 2006

None of Those Things / Cat Jahnke
None of Those Things A recent episode of How I Met Your Mother refreshed that old canard about how behind the times Canadians are in comparison to we Real Murrkuns. I was reminded of an old National Lampoon Radio Hour joke:
    "What was number one on the Canadian Hit Parade when Wake Up Little Suzie was number one on the American Hit Parade?"

    "Dunno, but six months later it was Wake Up Little Suzie."

Which is both unkind and probably untrue. Mostly. Granted, we don't expect mean, nasty headbanging rock from Our Neighbor To The NorthTM. But they can sometimes surprise us. Witness Cat Jahnke, Folk Rocker from Winnipeg, whose efforts are tuneful, stylish and, if you actually listen to the words, kind of unsettling. Which is, come to think of it, no more than we deserve from ONTTNTM.
[ Category: Folk | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 25 Sep 2006

So Much More / Brett Dennen
So Much More Brett Dennen doesn't sound like anybody else. Which can be a good thing or a bad thing, or a bad thing until you get used to it (c.f. Bob Dylan). I think it's a good thing; both his voice and his "voice" (his style, his material and his persona) are both distinctive and pleasing. And proof that folk doesn't all have to sound like "folk".
[ Category: Folk | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 02 Aug 2006

Adieu False Heart / Linda Ronstadt & Ann Savoy
Sometimes I struggle to find music for this blog. And sometimes it's no problem at all. Like now, when I discover a pop/folk/cajun hyphenate (I like hyphenated music, and I like cajun) involving Linda Ronstadt (whom I also like, especially when she gets folksy as with Long, Long Time). In fact, I generally prefer Ronstadt in her post-rock maturity. Unlike some others I could name, the years have been nothing but kind to her voice. And her choice of material as well. Adieu False Heart
[ Category: Folk | 1 comment | Link ]

Wed, 12 Jul 2006

The Pink Beast of Love / Chris Gelbmann
The Pink Beast of Love I was recently at dinner with friends, where the subject of blogs came up. One of the guests wanted to know what the compulsion is to share your thoughts with the world. I didn't have a good answer, or at least one that would satisfy him; like art or porn, you know it when you experience it.

But it made me think of the second question, that of just how much to share. There are people who let it all hang out, sometimes literally. And then there are folks like me who reveal aspects we hope others will find interesting or entertaining or enlightening. But we censor ourselves, whether to avoid others pain or to remain employed (the work-related stories I might tell if I didn't have to keep the paychecks rolling in...) or just because there really is such a thing as too much honesty.

Which brings me to Chris Gelbmann, whose first album appeared recently on the iTMS. In search of something to say about this low key and hauntingly voiced performer, I ended up at his website. And thence to his Reviews & Feedback link. The reviews are all in German, at least the ones I clicked on, and I wasn't up for trying to make sense of Babelfishery this morning. Fortunately, some of the feedback was in English. And they led me to the thoughts I've already described, about how much to reveal or conceal. Because most of the feedback consists of his rejection notices from various record labels. Which raises a whole other discussion about the labels' role in filtering out the uncommercial artists from the ones who have what it takes. I think they were wrong about Mr. Gelbmann. Then again, I'm not getting paid for my opinions.

[ Category: Folk | 2 comments | Link ]

Mon, 03 Jul 2006

Her Fabulous Debut / Carla Ulbrich
Her Fabulous Debut If Carla Ulbrich were a novelist, she'd produce chick lit of a particular snarky kind. Heck, the two minutes and four seconds of What If Your Girlfriend Was Gone have enough plot complications for a dozen such novels. And they demonstrate both her appeal and the big skull and crossbones warning that belongs on at least her professional persona. The Carla of her songs is both incredibly appealing and terrifying, a "how can you resist?" coupled with a "screw with me at your peril". And isn't that what all men want?

Or is that just me?

[ Category: Folk | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 31 May 2006

Songs for Bright Street / Amy Speace
Songs for Bright Street It's the incongruities that get my attention. Like now, which is why I mention the subject. I see the name of an album or artist and decide to investigate. The iTMS says it's folk, although the outfit and the hat suggest country. And I don't like country all that much. But I persevere. And I notice that the Top Songs list starts with a track called Dreaming. But it can't be that Dreaming, can it? I mean, what's a folksinger doing covering Blondie?

Good things, as it turns out, even if she sounds more country than folk as she reinvents Debbie Harry. And the rest of the album keeps the surprise going. There's more genre-bending throughout. And not nearly as much country as I feared.

[ Category: Folk | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 07 Oct 2005

One of These Days / Helen Slater
Helen Slater? Would that be the Helen Slater? The one who helped 1984's Supergirl sink into well deserved obscurity? Who redeemed herself somewhat as Michael J. Fox's romantic interest in The Secret of My Success, despite being something like a foot taller than him? Yeah, according to one source, this is the same Ms. Slater. And whatever one may think of her onscreen talent (the supreme awfulness of Supergirl ruined more than a few childhood fantasies), she's done a credible job here as singer and songwriter. Nothing that'll change the world, but sweet and warm. Pleasant, even if she's no Hamilton Camp. One of These Days
[ Category: Folk | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 16 Sep 2005

Brad Wolfe and the Moon / Brad Wolfe and the Moon
Brad Wolfe and the Moon I was listening to a recent TWiTcast (TWiT = This Week in Tech, an entertaining and on occasion informative podcast by some former TechTV hosts), where they talked about Apple's battle with the RIAA and the record labels. It may have finally dawned on the labels that, thanks in part to the iTMS, bands don't need them any more, at least not the way they used to. It was the labels who got music to radio stations and encouraged them to play it. And without the radio stations, how would we have known what to like? But that's all changing, thanks to blogs and podcasts and all the other media enabled by the web. And suddenly the labels aren't so excited about Apple selling all that music for the same price.

I mention this to introduce Brad Wolfe, an interesting folksinger and songwriter who, best I can tell, doesn't have any corporations behind him, big or small. If he's relying on random music lovers to spread the word, well, what's more random than this place? Oh, and does anybody else think he sounds a little like a 21st century Cat Stevens?

[ Category: Folk | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 09 Sep 2005

Welcome to Hamilton Camp / Hamilton Camp
It's a rare day when I don't find a reason to look up something at IMDB. Usually several somethings, and usually because I saw an old television episode or heard a mention of a movie and wondered whatever happened to that actress or where I've seen that guy before. Today's example started as I scanned through the new album listings at the iTMS and came upon the name of Hamilton Camp. There was a Hamilton Camp who used to show up as a guest on a lot of television during the 60s, 70s and 80s. Could it be he?

It could, and it is. Welcome to Hamilton Camp is a collection of folk tunes by the old actor, who, according to the ITMS, has the honor of being part of two of the worst failures on television, each of which was cancelled after a single episode aired. (One, as I recall the story, was actually cancelled at the first commercial break.) Fortunately, his singing wasn't the cause. At least I don't think it was; the IMDB is silent on that point.

Welcome to Hamilton Camp
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Mon, 29 Aug 2005

Capitol Collector Series: The Kingston Trio
Capitol Collector Series: The Kingston Trio Boy, this takes me back. I was eleven -- almost twelve -- when I first heard the saga of Charlie and the M.T.A., the man who never found his way off Boston's subway. It was summer, I was at Boy Scout Camp, and my scoutmaster/camp counselor/warden had a guitar and wasn't afraid to use it. Folk music was big in the mid-60s, those days of flower children and Vietnam. And we hoped sweet and gentle songs like Where Have All The Flowers Gone? would somehow make a difference. But I digress. For what, the fifteenth time?

Anyway, I found a surprise in my wander along memory lane: a cover of Terry Jacks' bittersweet hit, Seasons in the Sun. But it turns out that the Kingston Trio had the song before Jacks did. A little Googling and I learned about Jacques Brel and a 1961 song called Le Moribond: The Dying Man. Personally, I like the English versions better. Then again, I would, wouldn't I?

[ Category: Folk | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 01 Aug 2005

Alien Galaxies / Alien
Alien Galaxies I thought I knew what to expect from an album called Alien Galaxies. Boy, was I wrong.

Take a number like Kryptonite Blues; it's heavy on the blues with not so much kryptonite. In fact, everything on here is about as down to earth as you can get. Jazzy, folksy, bluesy. And not a cosmic sound to be found anywhere.

[ Category: Folk | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 13 Jun 2005

Fisherman's Woman / Emiliana Torrini
I first discovered Emiliana Torrini in those evil days of file sharing networks. I was looking for Neil Diamond's cover of If You Go Away and found hers instead. Truly a serendipitous moment, since Ms. Torrini gave the song a sadness and an emotional depth beyond other versions I'd heard. I went looking for other songs she'd recorded but was disappointed; they were all straight covers that added nothing.

Flash forward a year. I was sitting in a theater, watching The Two Towers. And over the closing credits was transfixed by Gollum's Song. The singer was familiar, but I couldn't place her. It was of course Ms. Torrini, breaking into the big time.

Now we have a whole album of Emiliana Torrini. Her voice most resembles fellow Icelander Björk, although I find her more accessible in both her performance and choice of material. That is to say that she's distinctive but manages to avoid crossing the line into bizarre.

Not that there's anything wrong with bizarre.

Fisherman's Woman
[ Category: Folk | 1 comment | Link ]

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Comments to: Hank Shiffman, Mountain View, California