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, 03 Oct 2007

Songs of Mass Destruction / Annie Lennox
Songs of Mass Destruction With a title so reminiscent of of modern warfare, I guess I was expecting something far more explosive. Instead we have heartfelt anthems that are anything but. Not with a bang, and not exactly a whimper either. More a deep sigh at the vagaries of life, where the destruction is less mass and more personal. Not so much wholesale as retail, as it were.
[ Category: Pop | 1 comment | Link ]

Fri, 21 Sep 2007

Eloquent Cool / David Courtenay
On his MySpace page, David Courtenay describes his music as sounding like blue whales mating. Now what could I possibly say that could possibly improve on that? Eloquent Cool
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 05 Sep 2007

Let's Be Honest / Maple Rabbit
Let's Be Honest Whenever I discover a listing for a new band on the iTunes Store, I start by sampling their Top Songs. My assumption is that somebody who got here before me might know something I'll only discover through actual effort. And with effort being something mightily to avoid, I'll take whatever shortcuts the world hands me. But I'm not stupid, in spite of what you may have heard. I'm immediately suspicious when the Top Songs are the first five tracks, that being an indication that anybody who bought this stuff just picked up the album.

So when I discovered Maple Rabbit on the store, I wasn't immediately suspicious as I listened to the first Top Song. Interesting, I thought, in a goofy sort of way that went with the album graphic. And I went to the second Top Song, which was coincidentally right above the first in the album's tracks. And the third was above that. And by the fifth, I realized there was a pattern here. Now, I'm no conspiracy theorist, at least not usually. But there's clearly something going on here that can't be explained by random chance. I blame aliens. Or maybe Republicans, assuming the two are mutually exclusive.

[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 24 Aug 2007

Umbrella / Marié Digby
This is another moment where ignorance is bliss. Judging by the reviews on the iTunes Store, people who knew Rihanna's original version of this song hated Hated HATED this one, where people like me who haven't listened to the radio since the 90s (if not earlier) think it sounds pretty nice. Marié has just the one track on iTunes, but there are a few others on her MySpace page, both covers and what may or may not be original tracks. Oh, and a blog post about the shock of her Rihanna cover becoming so popular. She sounds nice, and level headed about it all. Umbrella
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 10 Aug 2007

Uncover Me / Jann Arden
Yeesh. This one ought to be called Strike Up The Bland.

I like covers. And I like most of the songs Arden performs here. Maybe that's the problem; each track reminds me of how much better the originals are. From California Dreamin' to At Seventeen, I wondered why she thought she had anything to add. But it's downhill from there: Love Is a Battlefield, You're So Vain and Downtown shouldn't be attempted by somebody so, well, uninspired. I think I'll listen to an oldies station for a couple of hours until the horror subsides.

Uncover Me
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 08 Aug 2007

Who's Got Trouble? / Shivaree
Who's Got Trouble? Shivaree has a new album out. This isn't it.

The new album, entitled Tainted Love: Mating Calls and Fight Songs, is a collection of covers. But to my shame, I know almost none of the originals. Maybe if I did, I'd enjoy it more. But vocalist Ambrosia Parsley (and isn't that the most perfect name for a lead singer?) has such a distinctive voice that I just had to hear more. That led me here, to the group's third album. And perhaps because I don't know any of these songs and didn't expect to, or perhaps because the performances are more accessible, I found here the kind of listen experience I almost but didn't quite get on the new album.

So I'd suggest you listen to both and decide for yourself. Maybe you'll like one; maybe you'll like the other. And maybe your musical knowledge is better or at least more current than mine, and you'll appreciate Shivaree's way with a cover.

[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 06 Aug 2007

Anywhere But Here / Tim Corley
Tim Corley describes his pop ballads as "melodic depression". Doesn't sound depressed or depressing to me. Does that just mean I've been down so long that everything else seems up by comparison? Anywhere But Here
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 27 Jul 2007

Little Voice / Sara Bareilles
I am so far behind! Love Song was a free track this time last month, and I finally got around to listening to it now! I guess this makes up for all those times when I recommended something before it became a free track. That must have happened at least once, right?


Little Voice
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Mon, 16 Jul 2007

Life in Cartoon Motion / Mika
Life in Cartoon Motion When I was a kid, I remember reading a story about a record that you couldn't stop playing; no matter how hard you tried, it just compelled you to hear it again. Today we have a name for this phenomenon, the song that you can't get out of your head: we call it an earworm. Think It's a Small World. G'wan, I dare ya.

I mention this because I think I have another candidate. It was the end of the second week of my trip to Australia and New Zealand (what, is he on about that again?), and I turned on a television for the first time that trip. Flipping the channels, I came upon an MTVish show. And after a few minutes I was assaulted with Mika's song, Love Today. Before it had reached the chorus I was in pain; by the time it ended I realized that life as I knew it was over. I hated that song, and I couldn't wait to hear it again. And again. And again.

I suffer for his art. Now it's your turn.

[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 11 Jul 2007

Passenger / Carly Binding
Passenger I bet you didn't notice, but I had this blog on autopilot for a big chunk of June. It's true; while you Northern Hemispherers were enjoying the warming of late spring and early summer, I was suffering an antipodean chill in Sydney and Auckland. Pity me, won't you?

I don't mention this to make you jealous, although I quite understand if you are. (Unless you're an Aussie or Kiwi, in which case you're wondering what the big deal is.) No, I'm just trying to explain my next few musical selections, for which I must thank my host on Waiheke Island.

Strange thing, that; for some reason my travel agent thinks I have both money and taste. At least that's the conclusion I drew when I arrived at the most amazing little B&B on the island, a half hour's ferry from downtown Auckland. Among the delights of the place was an impressive collection of CDs in my room, which I enjoyed over the next few days. This was the first disc I put on, and the one that left the most lasting impression. It reminds me of Waiheke: lush and rich and full of subtleties, but also warm and inviting and relaxed. Which is making me wish I was back there, if it weren't for the fact that I have you here, waiting for more blog posts. Oh, and that thing about having to make money so I can take more trips. There's that, I suppose.

[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 27 Jun 2007

Bubbly / Colbie Caillat
Bubbly I guess this is the iTunes Store version of dipping your toes in the water, this one stinkin' track from MySpace phenomenon Colbie Caillat. And a phenomenon she is, with over a hundred thousand MySpace friends, (you can hear the "air quotes", can't you?), which is even more than I have! Not that she doesn't deserve all that attention and more; just looking at her concert schedule I'm exhausted. Fortunately, her songs are the perfect antidote to that exhaustion: light and bouncy and smooth and soothing. I predict great things, assuming there's anything to this word of mouth marketing thing we're both involved in.
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 16 May 2007

Winter in June / Lucy
Winter in June Five seconds into I Don't Know a Thing and I was hooked. And if the rest of the tracks on Winter in June didn't have the same effect, well, Lucy's awfully young. She has plenty of time to knock my socks off again.
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 27 Apr 2007

Trauma / Laura Jansen
Trauma You know what sucks? Five track albums, that's what sucks. It's like having appetizers with no main course. Although when the appetizers are this good... And at least I get to listen to the rest of Bells on Laura's MySpace page. Those 30 iTunes seconds are barely a taste. (And, I'm sure you're pleased to hear, that's the end of the overused food metaphors for today.)
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 18 Apr 2007

Don Ho's Greatest Hits / Don Ho
Don Ho's Greatest Hits To television viewers of a certain age, Don Ho was Hawaii. Okay, maybe he places behind McGarrett, but he's right up there. In fact, any show that did a special episode1 in Hawaii had a cameo by Mr. Ho, playing himself as the lounge singer he was. So it should come as no surprise that when I found myself in Hawaii on business, at the same hotel where Mr. Ho had his show, I had to indulge in this symbol of island kitsch. Which was everything I could have imagined, and one thing more. This guy was bored. Sick of the whole thing. Going through the motions doesn't even describe it. Plainly, he hated doing the same tourist crap night after night, and he was making little effort to hide that fact.

So is his performance here merely languid? Or is it supremely bored? I'll leave it to you to judge. My only hope is that in the two decades between my experience and Mr. Ho's death this past week, he found a little bliss, or at least a little comfort in his place in life. I mean, how awful can it have been to be successful, and beloved, and in Hawaii for all those years?

  1. Not to be confused with very special episodes, which generally involved teen pregancy or drug use and hardly ever took place in Hawaii
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 11 Apr 2007

Tour de Charme / Patricia Kaas
I discovered Patricia Kaas quite by accident. It was on a vacation trip to New Zealand, a experience I recommend heartily by the way. Anyway, I caught an ad on television for an album called Piano Bar, noted that it included a cover of If You Go Away, a song I've always liked, and set out to find a copy. Which I did, on a stop in Rotorua. And then I heard it again in a Thai restaurant in Christchurch; apparently I wasn't the only one influenced by those ads. Anyway, on returning home I was excited to tell a jazz buff friend about my discovery, only to learn that he already knew about Ms. Kaas and had her other albums. So we made a little trade, to the enrichment of all concerned. And now it's your turn. Sadly, this is the only one of her recordings available here. But it's a start. Tour de Charme
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 04 Apr 2007

Better / Amy Loftus
Better According to the liner notes on her website, Better was recorded live. Well, of course it was. I mean, what's the alternative? But no, it doesn't simply mean she and the musicians were there, and breathing, at the time the recording was made. It's a promise that what we're hearing is just what they recorded. Kind of like those "filmed in front of a studio audience" sitcoms, but with less of a safety net. And no laugh track to tell us how we're supposed to feel.

Which gives the performances on Better a little more immediacy, a lack of filtration. Could've been a disaster. Heck, we only have her word that it wasn't, that what we're getting really is the original, unadulterated performance. I'm just cynical to acknowledge the possibility I'm being flimflammed, even as I don't believe it for a second. Besides, with country-tinged pop this sweet, does it really matter? (Only to the degree it lets me use a word like "flimflammed". That was worth the whole digression.)

[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 02 Apr 2007

Ghost Stories / Chantal Kreviazuk
Chantal Kreviazuk may be the best and least known vocalist on the Internet. Best, because there are a ridiculous number of MP3s of the cover she did of Leaving on a Jet Plane floating around the file sharing sites. At least that's what I've heard. Not that I'd know anything about that, or know anybody who does.

But how can she be so known and unknown at the same time? That's because (again, so I've heard) most of those MP3s attribute the song to somebody else. Anybody else, as long as they're female and a singer. So I can only imagine how many people love her voice but have no idea it's her voice they love. And she's even good when she isn't channeling John Denver. Or being misidentified as Sheryl Crow. Or Jewel. Or half a dozen other age appropriate performers who aren't her. Or should that be she?

Ghost Stories
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 12 Mar 2007

Back Numbers / Dean & Britta
Back Numbers Not exactly an example of opposites attracting, but you do have two very different voices that fit together very well. Britta Phillips is as smooth and light as a soap bubble; Dean Wareham is more like a two day growth of beard. And their easy listening/sophisticated pop style blends those voices in ways I associate with Britpop of an earlier time. I was especially taken with their cover of White Horses, the theme to a UK kid's programme from the late 60s. I discovered the original on a TV theme album I bought on a trip to London and haven't been able to get it out of my head, in part because I can't imagine the show that would fit such a syrupy song. I'd say "but I digress" at this point, but when have I not?
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 09 Mar 2007

Kelly Sweet / Kelly Sweet
I hope you appreciate all the work that goes into a blog like this, the searching and sampling to find just three new performances a week. And performers as well; I bet you haven't noticed that I've yet to repeat a recording artist in over four hundred posts. It's a serious effort, I can tell you.

Okay, it isn't really. And sometimes it's no effort at all. Like today for example. I can't claim to have discovered Ms. Sweet. She, or rather her PR people, found me. And sent me her latest CD, so new that it hasn't shown up on the iTunes Store yet. So when it does, be sure to give a listen. Kelly Sweet has a sweet and pure and perfect voice, a little like a Charlotte Church, only without the highfalutin repertoire. That new CD is the best money I never had to spend. Not that I wouldn't have spent it if I'd needed to, you understand.

Oh, I almost forgot. That album that isn't on the iTunes Store yet? It's called We Are One. One what, she doesn't say.

Update 03/09: Ah, the perils of trying to get a little bit ahead on my posts. You know that not yet on iTunes album I just mentioned? Well, turns out it's there now. So rather than listening to Kelly's EP and imagining how good a whole album would be, you can skip that whole imagining thing and hear what I heard

Kelly Sweet
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 28 Feb 2007

...And I Mean It / Genya Ravan
How is it that I never encountered Genya Ravan before? ...And I Mean It dates back to 1979, a time when I actually thought of myself as knowing a little bit about the current music scene. Okay, I was undoubtedly deluding myself about that. But still; how did a singer as powerful and versatile as this not make a bigger impression on the world? Versatile is the word; in each track Ms. Ravan takes on a different genre and shows how it ought to be done. And seldom is. ...And I Mean It
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

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Comments to: Hank Shiffman, Mountain View, California