By Tom Reardon, May 2020 Issue.
It feels odd to be reviewing new music this month. I’m hoping that will change next month, but for now, I really want to celebrate music in general so I’m picking songs that make me feel good. Maybe they will help you feel good, too. Maybe they will inspire you to make some music of your own or a playlist of songs that you love or maybe they will just open a door to a new favorite or two or for you. Either way, I want to give you all this gift because we are in this together and we need to feel good right now, both physically and mentally. It’s not the time to sit around and feel bad, friends. It’s the time to live, even if that means living large in the living room.
“Deep” — Pearl Jam
I’ve got to go with this one because Pearl Jam has a pretty darn decent new record out and admittedly, I kind of wrote them off a while ago. When their classic Ten record came out in 1991, I was a bit of an early adopter and fell in love with the record before they became the radio darlings they became. And no, I’m not patting myself on the back here at all. I was just lucky to know some folks who were living in Seattle in those days and told me to check out some of these new fangled “grunge” bands that were coming out in the late 1980s. Anyway, “Deep” is a song that just rocks and was never one of the big radio rotation songs, so I never got sick of it. Even though it is not the happiest song ever, it makes me happy. It has that big, Billy Duffy-esque (The Cult) riff at the beginning and just dives in from there. When the sultry Mr. Eddie Vedder jumps in and starts singing, I’m hooked.
“My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style” — Dream Warriors
Another song from 1991. Will this be a trend? I was 21 and living in Berkeley when I first heard this record on KALX. Several of the DJs on KALX played a lot of rap and hip hop music and when this song would come on while I was out doing deliveries for Roxy Food Market, I would just bebop in the little piece of shit Dodge Colt the owner bought so I could make my rounds delivering groceries and sandwiches. Dream Warriors were a Canadian outfit who had a couple of minor hits but had this super groovy sound that you can’t help but just feel great when your listening to it. Turn it on, turn it up, and enjoy. If you haven’t heard it before, I’ll say it now: You’re welcome.
“Play My Song” — Redd Kross
Hit the way back machine for 1987, friends, and join me for track two off of one of the best feel good records to come out of the 1980s. Redd Kross was firing on all cylinders in these days (and they still pump out some pretty great music, b-t-dubs) and “Play My Song” is just one of the songs on this record that I love, but if I had to choose just one to dance around my living room or play air drums in the car, this is it. There’s some groovy sitar in there, too, that makes you think that maybe, just maybe, the McDonald brothers were listening to some George Harrison and watching I Love You, Alice B. Toklas with Peter Sellers every now and then.
“Bohemian Like You” — The Dandy Warhols
The newest of the four songs I’m sharing, but still clocking in at a robust 20 years old, “Bohemian Like You” always puts a smile on my face. Maybe it’s because singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor is always playing around with lyrics and poking fun at hipster culture while continuing to champion it. The proud yet self-deprecating thing is something I’m always a sucker for. Also, if you’ve seen the wonderful movie, Igby Goes Down, the music editor (Lori Eschler) on the film used it brilliantly in a scene set in a bougie Hampton Beach home owned by Jeff Goldblum’s smarmy character, D.H. Baines. Like two of the other songs on this list, it’s just a bouncy one that you can’t help but shake it a bit while you’re listening and the rest of the album is pretty damn stellar, too.
Next month we’ll get back to taking a look at new (or new-ish) music and I’ll try out my new ranking system based on social distancing. Be safe, stay well, and remember that hoarding is never, ever attractive.