Monday, April 11, 2022

Playlist - January to April 2022


  • Marillion—An Hour Before Its Dark (2022), Fugazi box set (2021), Live in Chile (2016), Holidays in Eden Live (2011)

  • Porcupine TreeClosure/Continuation (2022)

  • Shearwater—The Great Awakening (2022)

  • Father John Misty—Chloë and the 20th Century (2022)

  • The Weather Station—How Is It I Should Look At the Stars (2022)

  • Nilüfer Yanya—Painless (2022)

  • Joe Satriani—The Elephants of Mars (2022)

  • The Waterboys—All Souls Hill (2022)

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers—Unlimited Love (2022)

  • Paul Draper—Cult Leader Tactics (2022)

  • Midlake—For the Sake of Bethel Woods (2022)

  • Tim Bowness and Giancarlo Erra—Memories of Machines (2022 expanded reissue)

  • Tears for FearsThe Tipping Point (2022), Everybody Loves a Happy Ending (2004), Raoul and the Kings of Spain deluxe edition (2009), The Hurting deluxe edition (1999)

  • Ichiko AobaWindswept Adan (2021)

  • Ludovico Einaudi—Underwater (2021)

  • Public Service Broadcasting—Bright Magic (2021)

  • Portico Quartet—Monument (2021)

  • Failure—Wild Type Droid (2021)

  • Martina Topley-BirdForever I Wait (2021)

  • Larkin Poe—Peach (2017)

  • Tame Impala—Currents (2015)

  • Lana Del Rey—Ultraviolence (2014 bonus track edition)

  • John Hiatt—Terms of My Surrender (2014)

  • Depeche ModeSingles 86-98 (2013)

  • Robert PlantGreatest Hits (2011) 

  • Low—Drums and Guns (2007)

  • John Parish and PJ Harvey—Dance Hall at Louse Point (1996)

  • The Cocteau Twins—Victorialand (1986)

  • Genesis—Seconds Out, Invisible Touch (1977, 1986)

  • Steve Hillage—(1976)

Playlist Nov. to Dec. 2021


  • Robert Plant and Alison Krauss—Raising the Roof (2021)
  • Wolf Alice—Blue Weekend, tour edition (2021)
  • Elbow—Flying Dream 1, deluxe tour edition (2021)
  • Bent Knee—Frosting (2021)
  • Justin Adams and Mauro Durante—Still Moving (2021)

  • Plenty—It Could be Home (2018), Enough (2021)
  • Radiohead—Kid Amnesiae (2021)
  • Sting—The Bridge (2021)

  • Land of Talk—Calming Night Partner EP (2021)

  • Grasscut—Haunts (2021)

  • Big Wreck—7.1 EP (2021)
  • Tame Impala—The Slow Rush (2020)
  • Bass Communion—Sisters Oregon (2017)

  • David Bowie—Toy box set (2021 version), The Width of a Circle box set (2021)
  • Fovea Hex Steven Wilson remixes—Salt Garden III (2019)
  • Lil Band of Gold—Plays Fats (2012)
  • Chris Isaak—Beyond the Sun (2011), Best of (2006)
  • Feist—Look at What the Light Did Now (2010)
  • Los Lobos—How will the Wolf Survive (1984), By the Light of the Moon (1987), The Neighborhood (1990), Colossal Head (1996)
  • Lucinda Williams—World Without Tears (2003)
  • Richard Thompson—Rumor and Sigh (1991)
  • Public Image Ltd.—Greatest Hits, so far (1990)
  • Laurie Anderson—Big Science (1982)
  • Little Feat—Hoy Hoy (1981)

Playlist - Oct. 2021

  • Lana Del Rey—Blue Bannisters (2021)

  • Low—Hey What! (2021)

  • The War on Drugs—l Don't Live Here Anymore (2021)
  • LUMP—Animal (2021)
  • Steve Gunn—Other You (2021)
  • Robben FordPure (2021)
  • My Morning Jacket—My Morning Jacket (2021)
  • Tori Amos—Ocean to Ocean (2021)
  • Grasscut—Haunts (2021)
  • Joe Bonamassa—Time Clocks (2021)
  • The Tedeschi Trucks Band—Layla Revisited, live at Lockn, feat. Trey Anastasio (2021)
  • Tame Impala—The Slow Rush (2020)

  • Death Cab for Cutie—Thank You for Today (2018)
  • Iron Maiden—Senjutsu (2021)
  • Samantha Fish—Faster (2021)
  • Steely Dan—Northeast Corridor (2021)
  • Donald Fagen—The Nightfly Live (2021)
  • Marillion—Afraid of Sunlight Deluxe edition (2019), Fugazi Deluxe edition (2021), Viernes Noche (2019), Live in Chile (2017), Marbles in the Park (2017), Best of Montreal (2013), Sounds that Can't Be Made deluxe 2CD (2013), Holidays in Eden live (2011)
  • Fovea Hex Steven Wilson remixes—Salt Garden III (2019)
  • Bass Communion—Sisters Oregon (2017)

  • Chris Stapleton—Traveller (2015)
  • Los Lobos—How will the Wolf Survive (1984), By the Light of the Moon (1987), The Neighborhood (1990), Colossal Head (1996)
  • Steve Howe—Not Necessarily Acoustic (1994)

Playlist - March to July 2021

  • Wolf Alice—Blue Weekend (2021)

  • Can—Stuttgart 1975 (2021)
  • Sarah Jarosz—Blue Heron Suite (2021)

  • Nick Cave and Warren Ellis—Carnage (2021)

  • The Anchoress—The Art of Losing (2021)
  • Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds—Back the Way We Came, Vol. 1 (2021)
  • David Crosby—For Free (2021)

  • Los Lobos—Native Sons (2021)

  • Tedeschi Trucks Band feat. Trey Anastasio—Layla Revisited, Like at Lock'n (2021)

  • The Anchoress—The Art of Losing (2021)

  • John Hiatt—Leftover Feelings (2021)

  • Crowded House—The Dreamers are Waiting (2021)
  • Jesca Hoop—The House that Jack Built - acoustic (2021)

  • Billy Gibbons—Hardware (2021)

  • Bat for Lashes—Livestream at Home (2021)

  • Sheryl CrowLive at the Ryman (2021) 

  • Plenty—Enough (2021), It Could be Home (2018)
  • Albert Collins with the Barrelhouse—Live (2021)

  • Robert Plant—Live at Knebworth 1990 (2021)

  • PJ Harvey—the Demos series of albums (2021)
  • Bass Communion—And No Birds Sing (2021)
  • Justice Cow—Underglam (2021)

  • John Moreland—High on Tulsa Heat (2015), Big Bad Luv (2017)
  • The Pat McManus Band—Full Service Resumed (2021)

  • It Bites—Whole New World: The Virgin Years 1986-1991 (2014)
  • Little Feat—Down on the Farm (1979), Representing the Mambo (1990)

  • Joni Mitchell—Archives 1963-67 Highlights (2021)
  • Marillion—Recital of the Script (2009), Real to Reel/Brief Encounter (1997), The Thieving Magpie (2005) Live from Lorelely (2009),  Afraid of Sunlight Live (2003), Smoke (2006), This Strange Engine Live (2007), Sounds that Can't be Made - 2CD Special Edition (2013), Best Sounds - Chile (2014), Live in Chile (2016), With Friends at St. Davids (2020)

  • Gary Moore—How Blue Can You Get? (2021)
  • The Black KeysDelta Kream (2021)
  • Squid—Bright Green Field (2021)

  • Nils Frahm—Tripping With (2021)
  • Arooj Aftab—Vulture Prince (2021)
  • Dorothea Paas—Anything Can't Happen (2021)
  • William Tyler—New Vanitas (2021)

  • Richard Barbieri—On High (2021)
  • Flock of Dimes—Head of Roses (2021)

  • Field Music—Flat White Moon (2021)
  • Israel Nash—Topaz (2021)

  • Mick Fleetwood and Friends—Celebrate the Music of Peter Green (2021)

  • Robben Ford and the Ford Blues Band—A Tribute to Paul Butterfield (2001)

  • Pink Floyd—Live at Knebworth 1990 (2021)

  • The Pineapple Thief—The Soord Sessions (2021)

  • Calexico/Iron and Wine—In the Reins (2005)

  • Nirvana—Bleach (1989)

  • Yes—90125 Live: The Solos (1985)

  • John HiattSlow Turning (1988)
  • John Martyn—Bless the Weather (1971)
  • Lucinda Williams—Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)

  • Los Lobos—How Long Will the Wolf Survive (1984), By the Light of the Moon (1987) The Neighborhood (1990), Colossal Head (1996), 

  • Arvo Pärt—Tabula Rasa (1984)


  • The Waterboys—How Long Should I Love You? (2021)
  • Loma—Going Out (2021)

  • The Good Silver—Lightning Bug (2021)

  • Wye Oak—It's Way with Me, TNT (2021)
  • Amplifier—Glory Electricity (2021)

  • Colin Edwin—No Use for It (2021)
  • Laura Veirs—The Panther (2021)
  • Braids—Slayer Moon, 2020 (2021)
  • Tsubaki—Ripe (2021)

  • Courtney Swain—Fountainhead (2021)
  • Big Wreck—Middle of Nowhere (2021)

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Playlist - November 2020 to Feb 2021


  • Steven Wilson—The Future Bites Deluxe Edition Box Set (2021)
  • The Weather Station—Ignorance (2021)
  • Laura Marling—Live at Union Chapel (2021)
  • David Bowie—LiveAndWell reissue (2021), Ouvrez Le Chien (2020), No Trendy Réchauffé (2020) 
  • The War on Drugs—Live Drugs (2020)
  • Taylor Swift—Folklore; Evermore (2020)
  • Jonathan Wilson—Rare Blur (2020)
  • Phoebe Bridgers—Punisher (2020)
  • Joe Bonamassa—Royal Tea (2020)
  • Late Night Final—A Wonderful Hope (2020)
  • Robert Plant—Digging Deep: Subterranea (2020)
  • Fish—Welschmerz (2020)
  • Larkin Poe—Kindred Spirits (2020); Self Made Man (2020), Venom & Faith (2018)
  • The Pineapple Thief—A Different Kind of Truth (2020)
  • Laura Veirs—My Echo (2020)
  • Nick Cave—Idiot Prayer (2020); Grinderman (2010), Abbatoir Blues Tour (2007)
  • John Moreland—LP5 (2020)
  • Blackfield—Thank You for the Music (2020)
  • Nadine Shah—Kitchen Sink (2020); Holiday Destination (2017)
  • Sufjan Stevens—The Ascension (2020)
  • Henrik Freischlader—Missing Pieces (2020)
  • Samantha Fish—Kill or Be Kind (2019)
  • Julia Holter—Ekstasis (2012)
  • John Hiatt—The Best Of (1998)
  • World Party—Egyptology (1997)
  • Arvo Pärt—Tabula Rasa (1984)
  • Greg Lake—Manoeuvres (1983)
  • Little Feat—Down on the Farm (1979); Representing the Mambo (1990)
  • Steve Hillage—Fish Rising (1975), Green (1978) Rainbow Dome Music (1979)
  • Phoebe Bridgers—Punisher (2020)
  • Joni Mitchell—Early Joni 1963 (2020); Dog Eat Dog (1985)

    • 12 inch and 7 inch vinyl:

    • The Weather Station—Robber (2020)
    • Steven Wilson—Eminent Sleaze (2020); 12 Things I Forgot (2020)
    • David Gilmour—I See Ghosts (2020)
    • Sarah Jarosz and Parker Millsap—Mansion Sessions (2017)
    • No Man—Heaven Taste (2016)

    Sunday, September 13, 2020

    Playlist August 2020

    • Loma—Don't Shy Away (upcoming, 2021)
    • Tim Bowness—Late Night Laments (upcoming 2020), My Hotel Year (2004)
    • The Waterboys—Good Luck, Seeker (2020)
    • Tim Heidecker—Fear of Death (upcoming, 2020)
    • Angel Olsen—Whole New Mess (2020), All Mirrors (2019)
    • Land of Talk—Indistinct Conversations (2020)
    • Wire—Mind Hive (2020)
    • Jaga Jazzist—Pyramid (2020)
    • PJ Harvey—Dry - Demos (2020)
    • Joe Bonamassa—A New Day Now - 20th Anniversary reissue (2020)
    • Arcade Fire—The Arcade Fire (2005)
    • Santana—The Best Of (1998)
    • Calexico—The Black Light (1998)
    • World Party—Egyptology (1997) 
    • The The—Mind Bomb (1989) 
    • The Blue Nile—A Walk on the Rooftops (1984) 
    • Talking Heads—Stop Making Sense (1984)
    • Roxy Music—Manifesto - Steven Wilson mix (1979)
    • David Bowie—Welcome to the Blackout (1978), I'm Only Dancing '74 (1974) ChangesNowBowie (1997)

    An appointment with Mr. Scott of The Waterboys

    Nineteen years after I spent a memorable afternoon with Mike Scott inside a Boston hotel, I called up The Waterboys songwriter for an interview about the latest album, Good Luck, Seeker. This time, Scott was in his home studio in Dublin.

    "All the days I'm not parenting I come here and work," he told me. "I'm either working on music or making videos."

    I was only able to include a portion of stimulating conversation in the article so I thought I'd share some of the bits that ended up on the cutting room floor. 

    The focus of this interview for The Christian Science Monitor newspaper was about Scott's poetic lyrics but we also talked about how, unlike so many of his contemporaries, Scott strives to change up his sound. The new record, and its two predecessors, are notable for often embracing a lush sound with RnB influences and hip-hop rhythms. The cracking first single, "The Soul Singer," is propelled by a horn section with the blast of an afterburner.

    Scott: "I loved soul music when I was a kid. I grew up in the '60s and so the latest Four Tops and Temptations and Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye and the Supremes records were always on the radio and I grew up with those just as much as the Beatles and the Stones. And I mean, it wasn't buying Four Tops albums. I was buying new singles. And then later I was big into Sly and the Family Stone. And then disco. I was mad for disco around 1978. I'd be buying all the disco records on 12 inch. So all of that has had an effect on me as well."

    The new album includes a cover version of "Why Should I Love You," Kate Bush's collaboration with Prince. Scott is a longtime fan of both. I reminded him that his sleeve notes to Dream Harder detail a dream that he once had of meeting Kate Bush in Edinburgh and the two of them searching for a cafe. "Yes, that's right," Scott chuckled. But it turns out that he has never actually met Kate. Nor has he met Prince, though the two of them formed a mutual admiration society. Scott still occasionally plays "Purple Rain" at Waterboys shows, as he did in Boston last year (with Dave Mattacks of Fairport Convention fame guesting on drums). Prince, meanwhile, had been known to cover the most famous Waterboys song.

    "He's covered 'The Whole of the Moon' twice and he's done it in two different arrangements. I've heard one of them. Like everyone else, I've heard the funk version of 'The Whole of the Moon' that he did at a benefit concert," Scott said. "And the other time was at Ronnie Scott's club in London where apparently he did a piano/vocal version which I've never heard and would love to hear."

    Mostly, though, the focus of my interview was on Scott's lyrics and the recurring themes in his songs.

    I reached out to Ian Abrahams, author of the biography Strange Boat: Mike Scott and The Waterboys, to glean his insights into the songwriter's words.

    "I think there's three or four particular strands to Mike Scott's lyrics. As you say, there's the spiritual and mystical, which is a little bit undefined in how that reflects his own outlook, and of course our feelings towards these intangible ideas often shift and change as our life unfolds, so they inform us differently at different times in our lives, but there's not a definitive idea of where this part of his lyrics shapes his own life. I mean, clearly his relationship to Findhorn in particular has been a very powerful influence on his words, because it's a mighty powerful influence on him over the years, but I think his sense of spiritual is a fluid thing and he takes what he needs from those ideas depending on where he is in mind and in location."

    Another influence on Scott are poets such as Robert Burns and WB Yeats (On An Appointment with Mr. Yeats my brief review here - Scott created an entire album out of the latter poet's works)  and also the writer CS Lewis. I asked the songwriter about each of them.

    "Burns is Scotland's national poet. I'm very proud of him. And he wrote some really great work.... But he wrote in Scots, which this means much like Shakespeare, it's quite hard to understand him. You need to really work at it. His songs, I don't think he wrote the tunes. I think he fastened his lyrics to existing traditional tunes.... Some of his songs, I like more than others. But I always value him as a great writer and a great poet. Yeats: Another great poet. But I don't like all his work. I'm not interested in all of it. I also think he some of his more occult material, like 'A Vision,' I don't find very interesting. And then C.S. Lewis,  I like all his fiction. And I don't we don't have much interest in any of his Christian theology. That theology comes into some of his fiction, some more than others, but whenever he's in fiction I'm with him."

    Ian Abrahams, the biographer, shared this interesting observation with me about other literary influences on Scott:

    "I also find it really interesting to dig and speculate at other, less obvious, moments where he's writing with other writers in mind. One that struck from his early work was hearing the SF writer Harlan Ellison in Scott's 'The Girl In The Swing', and if that's a deliberate homage or allusion that's going on there ("you just asked me do I know what love is"), I think that's really intriguing in the way that Ellison was the angry young man of science fiction, and Scott was equally an angry young man of rock music right back to 'Another Pretty Thing'... and Ellison kept that going all his life, and it feels like Mike has as well."

    I didn't have time to ask Scott about the occasional humorous, tongue-in-cheek songs he's written. But I did ask him about his penchant for writing songs about other artists and musicians. He's written a tributes to Patti Smith, Mick Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Hank Williams, Elvis, and, on the new album, actor Dennis Hopper.

    "I don't know how that happens. 'Has Anybody Here Seen Hank' came out of the title. I remember there was a concert and someone said something and, one way or another, the phrase 'has anybody here seen Hank?' came up. And I remember improvizing a song on the spot. It was in Cardiff, 1986. I'll never forget it. And it didn't become the song 'Has Anybody Here Seen Hank?' but it sparked the idea. The Patti Smith one came out of a line she had in song, 'a girl named Johnny' and I stole that, I confess, and turned into 'A Girl Called Johnny' - partly written about her but partly not really about her at all."

    As for Scott's writing process? He told me he's always got something cooking, which is why he's released four albums in five years and already has the next one written. 

    "I just write for fun," he told me. "I didn't like homework when I was at school...and sometimes I get asked to do things, prepare this or do that or write this and I think, "It feels like homework and I don't like it.' But making music never feels like homework."  

    Monday, July 27, 2020

    Playlist: March through July

    • Steven Wilson—The Future Bites (upcoming, 2021)
    • Tim BownessLate Night Laments (upcoming 2020)
    • Bob DylanRough and Rowdy Ways (2020)
    • BraidsShadow Offering (2020)
    • Sarah JaroszWorld on the Ground (upcoming 2020), Song Up in Her Head (2009)
    • Dua Lipa—Future Nostalgia (2020)
    • Ed O'Brien (EOB)Earth (2020)
    • Elbow—Live at the Ritz (2020)
    • Flock of Dimes—So Much Like Desire EP (2020)
    • Laura Marling—Song for Our Daughter (2020)
    • Rustin' Man—Clockdust (2020)
    • Four Tet—Sixteen Oceans (2020)
    • David Bowie—Is It Any Wonder (2020)
    • Joe Satriani—Shapeshifting (2020)
    • Tim Bowness/Peter ChilversModern Ruins (2020), California, Norfolk (2002)
    • Pearl Jam—Gigaton (2020)
    • Porcupine TreeAll new live digital releases on (2020)
    • Richard BarbieriPast Imperfect/Future Tense EP (2020)
    • Israel NashLifted (2018)
    • John Paul WhiteBeulah (2016), The Hurting Kind (2019)
    • Braids—Native Speaker (2011)
    • RadioheadIn Rainbows Limited edition box set (2007)
    • In Tua NuaVaudeville (1987)
    • Joni MitchellDog Eat Dog (1985)
    • Peter Gabriel—Plays Live! (1983)
    • SupertrampFamous Last Words (1982)

      Hello, it's been a while...

      Hello, it's been a while...

      It's felt like it, too - the pandemic has made the last four months feel like a year....

      There hasn't been a dull moment when it comes to writing stories as the chief culture writer for The Christian Science Monitor.

      One thing I've missed, though, is getting out and about to report stories in person. The last story I did shoe-leather work for was a piece about how the pandemic hurt Chinatowns across the world first. A few months later, when the shutdowns began to ease, I helped report another restaurant story about the difficulties of reopening eateries. I also drove to Rhode Island for a story about how drive-in cinemas are more popular than ever, not just for movies but as concert venues. (Meanwhile, the future of cinema-going remains uncertain.)

      But my first proper get-out-of-the-home office story was a look at how street artists have responded to the protests in the wake of George Floyd's death. The story profiles five artists across the US and I got to visit Boston's Rob "ProBlak" Gibbs to watch him at work painting the mural in the photo above. Read the whole story here.

      During the height of the pandemic, I wrote about how it's impacted musicians who rely on touring to make a living I interviewed the last musician I saw perform, an Americana songwriter named John Paul White who was previously part of the duo The Civil Wars with Joy Williams. That show was just two or three days before everything shut down and the show wasn't full because some people were already staying home. 

      Speaking of Americana, I got to chat with Jonathan Wilson for a second time (I previously interviewed him for The Boston Globe) about his new album Dixie Blur, a venture into classic Americana and country. 

      I also penned an article about how the coronavirus proved challenging for the founder of a unique, one-man record label

      For a change, I got to review a book - Val Kilmer's absorbing memoir.

      A far more fraught assignment was a look at how the racial protests have led to upheaval of newsrooms across the US - including my own.

      Want an inspiring and uplifting read? Among the articles I wrote during the height of the virus are stories about how neighbors have helped each other during Covid-19 and how one man is helping to blanket the homeless in San Francisco

      I also wrote a magazine cover story about the how the virus inspired some people to reach out estranged family members. That one seemed to move a lot of readers. It was certainly a buoyant experience to talk to people about healing relationships that had seemed permanently broken.