What I’ve Been Listening To: Spring 2021

Can you believe it’s June already? The week that I wrote this went by so quickly. I guess that’s what happens when you’re busy and busy is good. Definitely a lot better than times when all I was doing was binge watching movies and TV. That’s time I could have been productive honing my craft, except at that time I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer and I never would have pictured it because I didn’t like writing that much when I was a teenager. That’s enough of my story though.

If you’re new to the blog, you’ll know that I do a quarterly new music feature and share new music that I’ve been enjoying a lot lately. Starting last year, I decided to do a yearly edit where I share my top picks of the year and that’s going to be really difficult this year. We’re not even halfway through the year and there’s already a lot of good music. Anyway, as with all the other posts in this series, I’ll share the song and a little info on the musician. Enjoy!

1. “Voy Por Ella”/”No Quiero Más de Ti” – Tipa Tipo

As you may already know, I’m half Venezuelan and I love hearing rock music in Spanish. I grew up with Spanish spoken at home and while I’m not as sharp in my skills since I don’t hear it often anymore, hearing music in Spanish brings back childhood memories. On Instagram, I often get ads for music (social media spying, am I right?). Makes sense because I write a lot about music. Hearing a couple seconds of “Voy Por Ella”, I liked it and I had to check out this group.

Some information on them: They are an NYC/Lima duo and their name translates to Girl Guy, essentially. Their Spanish lyrics are backed by 70s yacht rock inspired sounds. The first song here translates to “I’m going for her”. The second song “No Quiero Más de Ti” translates to “I don’t want more from you” and has a funkier sound.

2. timeabout, – Yukika

Going from one foreign language song to another, this time we’re looking at City Pop in Korean. City Pop is a genre that has been growing a lot in popularity, and so has Korean pop music. The latter is everywhere you look. One of my friends on Twitter, Crimson Firewill (you can find his blog here), is a huge fan of City Pop and anime and talks to me often about these things and I’ve learnt a lot from him. When this new Yukika EP came out, Crimson was telling me I gotta listen to it and I did so straight away!

Yukika has a very retro poppy sound and her sound reminds me of the 80s. She was born Yukika Teramoto in Japan. As a teenager, she was a model, sang, and danced. She was also a voice actress for some anime and video games. In 2015, she made a big career move, moving to Korea. There, she was in Real Girls Project. In 2019, she went solo with her debut “Neon” and in 2020 she released an album Soul Lady.

timeabout, as a whole is a great EP, but my favourite tracks are “Insomnia” and “Secret”. If you like futurefunk and city pop, this is perfect for you. The intro reminds me a bit of Saint Pepsi’s Hit Vibes. I hope one day to see another full album! “PUNG!” is the most 80s city pop sounding track, love the music on that one.

If you want to hear a Japanese version of “Insomnia”, you can find it below:

3. Changes Instrumentals – Neal Francis

I found out about his music on Instagram when an artist showed an art commission they made for him. I listened to his album Changes. He’s a Chicago based musician with an inspiring story: he broke free from a destructive past and is now sober and making brilliant music. His sound is really a mix of all sorts of 70s and earlier music: rock and roll, boogie woogie piano, R&B, and soul to name some influences. His playlist called Where I’m Coming From is brilliant, lots of great songs.

I’m a sucker for instrumentals and I made a whole playlist of classic rock ones. I have a lot of favourites and I don’t half-ass playlists. So when I saw that Neal Francis released an instrumental album as a companion to the original Changes, I had to give it a listen. As I was listening to it, I thought a lot of my dad, who introduced me to a lot of 60s and 70s soul music: Motown, Stax, Philadelphia International, stuff like that. To quote a song title, she’s (as in this album) a winner! Perfect albums!

4. Teatro d’ira Vol. 1 – Måneskin

The new rock band that everyone’s been talking about, and not just in the classic rock fandom. They were the winners of Eurovision with their song “Zitti e Buoni”. I’m so happy for them and it’s awesome to see rock and roll win Eurovision! They were such a sensation that large numbers of people were downloading Duolingo to learn Italian so they can understand the lyrics.

I found out about them months before Eurovision because I was talking to my friend Alessandro, who is from Italy. We were talking about Italian rock music and he said I had to listen to Måneskin because they have a classic rock sound. Indeed they do! Rock and roll is far from dead and bands like this being popular now is proof of rock and roll still being alive. And I’m really happy to see people listen to rock music in languages other than English.

Basically you’ll love “Zitti e Buoni” if you love more modern bands like The Struts, Arctic Monkeys, and Greta Van Fleet and classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and AC/DC. This album is ideal for fans of 70s glam rock and hard rock. As someone who loves hard rock, I loved “Lividi Sui Gomidi” and “I Wanna Be Your Slave”. I also liked “Vent’anni”

5. Jennifer – The Mariners

I believe I found out about them from browsing Spotify. I’m basically on Spotify all day, as I’m always writing about music and I love listening to music for fun when I’m not writing about it. The Mariners are a four piece band from Nottingham with a sound reminiscent of The Byrds, Hollies, and Turtles. The kinds of stuff from the 60s I like. A really nice relaxing song for the summer, also listen to the other two songs on the EP – they’re great too. The Mariners are definitely a band that deserve more listeners.

6. “Ramblin’ With The Day” – Rose City Band

I’ve been enjoying this musician lately because I’ve been listening to a lot of Byrds, Bobbie Gentry, and a bit of CSNY. If you want to hear something new that reminds you of them, Rose City Band are a great choice. I found out about him through Reddit. It’s a side project of Ripley Johnson, the leader of Wooden Shjips. This song makes me think of the movie Easy Rider for some reason. Definitely something that makes me go “this isn’t classic rock?”

7. Long Lost – Lord Huron

Found out about this band just browsing Spotify. They are an LA based indie folk band. Their most recent release is an album called Long Lost. I can hear some 50s/early 60s instrumental rock sounding guitars, modern indie, and cosmic folk sounds. My favourite tracks on it are “Mine Forever”, “Not Dead Yet”, “At Sea”, and “What Do It Mean”.

8. “Only One Man” – Moodoïd and Melody’s Echo Chamber

As you may already know, I really like Melody’s Echo Chamber, I love psychedelic rock with an electronic sound in it, so I’m always happy to see new music from her. This song reminds me a lot of the 80s.

9. Heavyweight Funk: The Get Down! – Olly Vert

For the most part, I make sure to only share things that came out in the last few months, but once in a while I find something that came out earlier, but there’s a compelling reason to talk about it. It’s now available to pre-order on vinyl, and not just regular vinyl but orange and brown vinyl: a very 70s colour scheme. I love both psychedelic rock and funk, so this is a perfect combination of the two.

My favourite tracks are “The Funky Strut”, “Heavyweight”, “Sleeping Giant” (has a heavy stoner rock feel, love the bass and guitar on this one), and “Laid Back Boogie”.

10. “Hop The Twig” b/w “Only Happy When You’re Gone” – The Courettes

Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of early rock and roll and appreciating the sounds and contributions from 50s rock and roll. There have been multiple revivals of that sound over the years and I’m always happy to hear more stuff like that since nowadays in new rock music, it’s a lot of 70s hard rock and psychedelia. Without 50s rock and roll, there wouldn’t be these other genres. The Courettes describe themselves as inspired by The Sonics and Duane Eddy and I can definitely hear that – two musicians I really like! I can even hear some surf rock in their sound too. The A side has a surf rock meets twanging guitar sound and the B side has a more girl group sound.

11. “Francesca” – The Murlocs

Australian psychedelic rock band The Murlocs released a few singles this spring, but my favourite of all of them is “Francesca”.

12. Sun Reign – The Magic Castles

Magic Castles are a psychedelic rock band from Minneapolis. Their latest release Sun Reign came after some difficult times for the band. Founder Jason Edmonds got into a near fatal car accident in 2019 and was left in medical debt. Fans raised money through GoFundMe and he made a recovery. Throughout 2020 he worked on the new album and it’s out now.

A great album. If you like The Byrds, Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, Temples, Allah-Las, and Brian Jonestown Massacre, you’ll love this album. My favourite tracks are “Sunburst”, “Lost Dimension”, “Ode To The Wind”, “Surmise”, and “Gates of the Sun”.

13. “Cold As Weiss” – Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

This soul/jazz/funk trio are from Seattle. In January, they released an album called I Told You So. Their most recent release is a single called “Cold As Weiss”. Found them by chance on Spotify and I’m so happy I did. Whenever I’m not listening to rock music, I’m listening to soul, R&B, or funk. I always love hearing organs in rock and R&B music. Definitely worth checking out the album too! I really liked “Hole In One”, “Girly Face”, “Fo Sho”, and “Aces”.

14. Isolation Tarot by Stanley Duke and the Kindred Spirits

Stanley Duke and the Kindred Spirits are a psychedelic rock band from England with a modern Australian psych rock sound like Tame Impala, Pond, and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. If you like those bands and want something new to mix it up, give this EP a try! Not only is Stanley Duke’s sound psychedelic, you can hear some 80s influences and prog rock influences.

My favourite track is “The Hanged Man”.

15. “Hattori Outlaw” – Two Guns Gonzo

This song by New Zealand, but international, surf/instrumental rock duo Two Guns Gonzo is inspired by the sword maker in Kill Bill. The duo are experienced session musicians who have worked all over the world as musicians and have a new project. This is only their second single and it’s really good, can hear some early 60s sounds in it.

16. “1963” – Catching Mangoes

Catching Mangoes are a band from Brighton and they’re releasing their debut album this summer, Kevin’s Town. “1963” is a single from the album and the exposition of sorts, telling the story of Kevin’s parents. There’s a bit of a surf rock sound to it with some folk/country rock.

That concludes the quarterly music feature for Spring 2021. I’ll be back in three months to share my new music picks of the summer. As always, if you’re a classic rock inspired musician, feel free to contact me and share your music with me. 🙂 Who knows? I might share it!

Shoutout to Patrick and Jeffrey from Maryland for supporting the blog!

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