Words by Art Jipson
Every month Off Shelf contributor and Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative host Art Jipson brings you the best singles of the month and puts together a playlist for your enjoyment. Below you’ll find five highlighted songs that stood above the rest, which is followed by the entire playlist. Please follow our Spotify account so you don’t miss any future playlists!
The Good Graces – “Wants + Needs,” from Prose and Consciousness
Kim Ware as The Good Graces has made some of the most compelling alt-country indie of the past few years. Check out the compelling power of her previous, Porchlight. With her new record, imagine if the emotional intensity of a mature Paul Westerberg was crossed with the grit and unapologetic southern nature of The Allman Brothers in a revved up indie-folk style? Or what if Big Star embraced their inner country songwriter soul? Well, imagine no longer. The Good Graces’ Prose and Consciousness, delivers some deep personal songwriting within a widely accessible imagery within evocative personal songs. One of the stellar cuts on Prose is the second track Wants + Needs. Enjoy the fact that Kim has not tried to hide the flavor, accent and texture of her southern accent.
Blues Lawyer – “It’s Not Up To You” from Something Different
One of the compelling tracks to Blues Lawyer’s latest record is everything fun that is missing in overly serious indie rock today. You can hear the joy, the fun, the ebullience of the band in making this record. However, do not make the mistake of dismissing the power in the arrangements. To design a song that is fun, compelling and a bliss to listen to today is a rare gift. You may also want to check out the band’s title track and the song For Keeps as well because these days we can all use a bit of break from seriousness.
Rocketship – “Under Streetlights Shadows” from Thanks To You
Under Streetlights Shadows has melody for days and days and… well, you get the point. Shoegazing with a touch of The Cure electronic scaffolding, sweeping almost Peter Buck-like guitar and a series of driving and swirling vocals in a compelling arrangement that flows like perfection. As the song progress, its path takes unexpected directions. If water could roll up hill, this is what it would sound like to hear such an improbable event. This song will become the earworm that you cannot get out of your head.
SNST – “It’s Hard To Be Loved By You” from It’s Hard To Be Loved By You
SNST – Pronounced ‘sunset’ – have released a single from their forthcoming sophomore record It’s Hard To Be Loved By You on their own imprint label. The music is atmospheric, clouded, drifting and yet an incredibly rich detailed musical experience. The band focuses on lyrics that capture the challenge of overwhelming love. One wonders if there are layers of subtext to the lyrics just as there are levels to the instrumentation of the music. Regardless, love is always a multifaceted experience and this song captures that reality without insulting the listener. The band also released What’s Evil About? on Friday, October 25th on City at Night/SNST RCRDS.
The Muffs – “A Lovely Day Boo Hoo” from No Holiday
Kim may have passed but she left a remarkable gift of an album behind for those of us who appreciate terrific infectious jangly and punky rock and roll. Many writers have called this album The Muffs most ambitious and expansive record with 18 songs that span the band’s career. Songs were selected based on the emotional punch and an almost Ramones-esque concise straight to the point approach that has served the band incredibly well. A Lovely Day Boo Hoo captures the spirit of The Muffs in an almost waltzy feel and creates a sense of compassion that hits the listener especially now.
The Mark Lanegan Band – “Stitch It Up” from Somebody’s Knocking
The former Screaming Trees frontman continues his search for that perfect Iggy and The Stooges rock song. This driving tune comes damn close to fulfilling that quest. This latest effort combines a distinctively lo-fi sensibility, powerful backing vocals, grungy guitar – lower in the mix than some previous Lanegan albums – with an unexpected keyboard flourish. In a more just world, everyone would know the music of Mark Lanegan.
Extra Arms – “Hold Me (All the Time)” from Up From Here
This passionate and emotional song (and for that matter the entire record) addresses real emotion, loss and the lack of control that we all face in everyday life. What does loss feel like is a tired cliché examined by many songwriters to placid and waste-of-time effect. However, in the hands of Ryan Allen, the reflection of glass half-empty and the anger over relationships gone awry becomes a realization of identity and self that moves past over used formulas. With Hold Me, Extra Arms demonstrates that indeed some of the best music comes from sorrow. What a beautiful gloom and melancholy that it is in Hold Me.