Sunday, August 31, 2014


August 1, 2014
"Johnny Appleseed" performed by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
"What Do I Get" performed by The Buzzcocks
"Shake Some Action" performed by Flamin' Groovies
"Jack Talking" performed by Dave Stewart and the Spiritual Cowboys
"Sexy Sadie" performed by The Beatles

August 2, 2014
"Wild Horses" performed by The Rolling Stones
"I've Been High" (live) performed by R.E.M.
"For What It's Worth" performed by The Cardigans
"Ordinary Day" performed by Dolores O'Riordan
"Radio" (live) performed by The Cold And Lovely-WSPC PREMIERE
"Sweetest Thing" performed by U2

"To Live Forever" performed by Planet P. Project
"The World's On Fire performed by The Housemartins
"We'll Inherit The Earth" performed by The Replacements
"Special" performed by Garbage
"Rhythm Of Love" performed by Yes

"The Whole Of The Moon" performed by The Waterboys
"Light Of The Moon" performed by The Pretenders
"The Moon Song" performed by Karen O.
"Bad Side Of The Moon" performed by Elton John
"Kiko And The Lavender Moon" performed by Los Lobos
"Sister Mon" performed by Sting
"Moon" performed by Bjork
"Moon At The Window" (live) performed by Joni Mitchell
"Sail To The Moon" performed by Radiohead
"Sisters Of The Moon" (live) performed by Fleetwood Mac

August 4, 2014
"Hot You're Cool" performed by General Public
"Running In The Family" performed by Level 42
"House Of Fun" performed by Madness
"Gangsters" performed by The Specials
"Can't Get Used To Losing You" performed by The (English) Beat
"Bring On The Night" performed by The Police

"Give WE The Pride" performed by Chuck D. featuring Mavis Staples-WSPC PREMIERE

August 5, 2014
"Galvanize" performed by The Chemical Brothers
"Work It" performed by Missy Elliot
"Tiny Tortures" performed by Flying Lotus
"Broken" performed by Gorillaz
"The Selfish Giant" performed by Damon Albarn
"The Unknown" performed by Andrea Parker

"Sheraton Gibson" performed by Pete Townshend
"I Want To Tell You"performed by The Beatles
"David Watts" performed by The Kinks
"Perpetual Change" performed by Yes
"Razor" performed by Foo Fighters
"Tuesday's Gone" performed by Lynryd Skynyrd
"Phone Call From The Moon" performed by Adrian Belew

August 6, 2014
"Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" performed by The Dream Academy
"Come Talk To Me performed by Peter Gabriel
"Communication" performed by The Cardigans
"Crestfallen" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Feeling Yourself Disintegrate" performed by The Flaming Lips
"Why?" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" performed by The Smiths

August 7, 2014
"Crazy Love" performed by Poco
"Your Own Special Way" performed by Genesis
"How Many Friends" performed by The Who
"My Melancholy Blues" performed by Queen
"Mandocello" performed by Cheap Trick
"A Man I'll Never Be" performed by Boston

August 8, 2014
"Strange Condition" performed by Pete Yorn
"As Hard As It Is" performed by  Fine Young Cannibals
"Dancing Barefoot" performed by U2
"New Star" performed by Tears For Fears
"I'll Take You There" performed by David Bowie

August 9, 2014
"Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You)" performed by A Flock Of Seagulls
"Love Is A Stranger" performed by Eurythmics
"Sunday Girl" performed by Blondie
"Dreaming" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Seven Seas" performed by Echo And The Bunneymen
"Every Word Means No" performed by Let's Active

August 10, 2014
"Run Away" performed by Weezer
"Evangeline" performed by Matthew Sweet
"So Into You" performed by Atlanta Rhythm Section

August 11, 2014
"Let Me Give The World To You" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins-WSPC PREMIERE

"Funeral For A Friend/Tonight" performed by Elton John with Ray Cooper

August 12, 2014
"Laughing" performed by David Crosby
"Dear God 2.0" performed by The Roots with Jim James
"Telephone" performed by Erykah Badu
"Dondante" performed by My Morning Jacket

"Everybody Hurts" performed by R.E.M.

August 13, 2014
"New York Groove" (live) performed by Ace Frehley and The Roots
"Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" (live) performed by Billy Corgan-WSPC PREMIERE
"Real Men" performed by Joe Jackson

"Sirens II" performed by Bilal-WSPC PREMIERE

"Sometimes I Don't Know What To Feel" performed by Todd Rundgren
"American Skin (41 Shots)" performed by Bruce Springsteen
"Riot" performed by Miles Davis
"So Many Millions" performed by Fishbone
"Midnight" performed by Jimi Hendrix
"Prophets Of Rage" performed by Public Enemy

August 14, 2014
"I Will Follow You Into The Dark" performed by Death Cab For Cutie
"Sleeping Angel" performed by Stevie Nicks
"Windows" (live) performed by Utopia
"The Warmth Of The Sun" performed by The Beach Boys

"Chicago" performed by Billy Corgan-WSPC PREMIERE

"Best Of All Possible Worlds" performed by Bourgeois Tagg
"Bring You Back" performed by Wendy & Lisa
"Ticket To The Moon" performed by E.L.O.
"What ?" performed by The Move
"Window Sills" performed by The Sea And Cake

"Gimmie Something Good" performed by Ryan Adams and the Shining (live)

August 15, 2014
"Seen And Not Seen" performed by Talking Heads
"Easy Money" performed by Johnny Marr-WSPC PREMIERE
"Sister Europe" performed by The Psychedelic Furs
"Sister Europe" performed by Foo Fighters
"Kiss The Dirt (Falling Down The Mountain)" performed by INXS

August 16, 2014
"Crystal River" performed by Mudcrutch

"Guerrilla Radio" performed by Rage Against The Machine
"Eve Of Destruction" performed by Public Enemy
"Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" performed by Marvin Gaye
"Hang On In There" performed by John Legend and The Roots
"Mississippi Goddam" performed by Nina Simone
"The Selma March" performed by Grant Green
"Alabama" performed by John Coltrane
"Fight The Power" performed by The Isley Brothers
"Sound Of Da Police" performed by Boogie Down Productions
"AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted" performed by Ice Cube
"Slow Bus Movin' (Howard Beach Party)" performed by Fishbone
"Strange Fruit" performed by Billie Holiday
"Love's In Need Of Love Today" performed by Stevie Wonder

August 17, 2014
"U Get Me High" performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-WSPC PREMIERE
"Lazaretto" performed by Jack White-WSPC PREMIERE
"Ohio" (live 1974) performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young-WSPC PREMIERE
"Bolero" performed by Frank Zappa
"Electrocoustic Matter" performed by Dweezil Zappa

August 18, 2014
"House Burning Down" performed by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
"Fight The Power" performed by Public Enemy
"I Wanna Be Black" performed by Lou Reed
"Here's To The State Of Mississippi" performed by Wyclef Jean
"Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen" performed by Sam Cooke
"Love...Hate" performed by Fishbone

"Strut" performed by Lenny Kravitz-WSPC PREMIERE

August 19, 2014
"Helter Skelter" performed by The Beatles
"Revolution #9"" performed by The Beatles
"Happiness Is A Warm Gun" performed by The Beatles

"Running On Empty" performed by Jackson Browne
"Silver Lining" performed by Rilo Kiley
"Quiet Heart" performed by The Go-Betweens
"Heartbeat" performed by King Crimson

August 20, 2014

"Time's Up"
"Elvis Is Dead"
"Information Overload"
"This Is The Life"

August 21, 2014
"Ricochet Part 1" performed by Tangerine Dream

"Black Rage" performed by Ms. Lauryn Hill-WSPC PREMIERE
"Tears Of Rage" performed by The Band
"When The Levee Breaks" performed by Led Zeppelin
"Revolution" performed by Arrested Development
"Battleflag" performed by The Lo Fidelity All Stars
"Say It Loud, I'm Black And I'm Proud" performed by JAMES BROWN
"Which Side Are You On?" performed by Billy Bragg

August 22, 2014
"Ebony And Ivory" performed by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
"Know Your Rights" performed The Clash
"Misrepresented People" performed by Stevie Wonder

"Change" performed by  Fishbone
"This Is Not America" performed by David Bowie and Pat Metheny with Lyle Mays
"Fair Warning" performed by Todd Rundgren

August 23, 2014
"Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around" performed by Sweet Honey In The Rock
"Keep On Pushing" performed by The impressions
"Keep On Keeping On" performed by Curtis Mayfield
"Funny Vibe" performed by Living Colour with Public Enemy

"Revolution" performed by The Beatles
"Revolution" performed by R.E.M.
"Ball Of Confusion" performed by Love And Rockets
"Son Of Orange County/More Trouble Every Day" performed by Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention
"That Hump" performed by Erykah Badu
"Ball of Confusion" performed by The Temptaions

August 24, 2014
"Summer" performed by Moby
"Walk A Thin Line" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Blue Bell Knoll" performed by Cocteau Twins
"When The Sky Comes Falling Down" performed by The Pursuit Of Happiness
"Summer" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins

"Birds Of Paradise" performed by The Pretenders
"Hook Line And Sinker" performed by Jon Brion
"Stay (Faraway So Close)" performed by U2

"Level" performed by The Raconteurs
"It's All I Can Do" performed by The Cars
"Voices" performed by Cheap Trick
"Up!" performed by M83
"Experiment IV" performed by Kate Bush
"Deja Vu And The Sins Of Science" performed by Tears For Fears
"Go" performed by Valley Lodge

August 25, 2014

"Bye Bye Blackbird" performed by Miles Davis
"On Green Dolphin Street" performed by Miles Davis
"Tenderly" performed by Miles Davis
"You're My Everything" performed by Miles Davis
"In Your Own Sweet Way" performed by Miles Davis

"Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" performed by The Cannonball Adderley Quintet
"Mosaic" performed by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
"Forest Flower" performed by Charles Lloyd
"Body And Soul" performed by Dexter Gordon
"Acknowledgement Part 1" performed by John Coltrane

August 26, 2014
"Apology Accepted" performed by The Go-Betweens
"Beautiful Queen" performed by Robyn Hitchcock
"Moving In Your Sleep" performed by The db's
"Desire As" performed by Prefab Sprout
"Roman Gardens" performed by Kirsty MacColl

"A Little Is Enough" performed by Pete Townshend
"Love Song" performed by Elton John
"Be Strong Now" performed by James Iha

"To Forgive" performed by Billy Corgan-WSPC PREMIERE
"All Come True" performed by World Party
"Everybody's Falling In Love" performed by World Party
"Show Me" performed by Garbage

"Love Like We Do" performed by Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians
"Disappointed" performed by Ivy
"Le Picbois" performed by Beau Dommage
"(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" performed by Elvis Costello and the Attractions
"When I Write The Book" performed by Rockpile

August 27, 2014
"Don't You (Forget Abut Me)" performed by Simple Minds
"Goodbye, Goodbye" performed by Tegan &Sara
"Maybe The Last Time" performed by JAMES BROWN
"To Sir, With Love" performed by LuLu

August 28, 2014
"Yes, I'm Ready" performed b Barbara Mason
"Education" performed by The Kinks
"The Kids Are Alright" performed by The Who
"New Kid In School" performed by The Donnas
"Playground" performed by XTC
"We Rule The School" performed by Belle and Sebastian
"You Don't Learn That In School" performed by Nat "King" Cole

August 29, 2014
"Emotion In Motion" performed by Ric Ocasek
"She Goes To Bed" performed by Jason Falkner
"Wonderful" performed by Stone Temple Pilots
"Strawberry Fields Forever" performed by The Beatles
"Porpoise Song (Theme From "Head")" performed by The Monkees

"Love Untold" performed by Paul Westerberg
"Alex Chilton" performed by The Replacements
"Kiss Me On The Bus" performed by The Replacements

August 30, 2014
"So Far To Go" performed by J Dilla with Common and DAngelo
"Space Intro/Fly Like An Eagle/Wild Mountain Honey" performed by The Steve Miller Band
"Next Year" performed by Foo Fighters
"Darlinghurst Nights" performed by The Go-Betweens
"Wicked Things" performed by Prefab Sprout
"Midnight In A Perfect World" performed by DJ Shadow

"CLOUDS"-performed by Prince-WSPC PREMIERE

"Mull Of Kintyre" performed by Paul McCartney and Wings
"Once Upon A Time In The West" performed by Dire Straits
"How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us" performed by R.E.M.

"Pug" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Fly On The Windscreen" performed by Depeche Mode
"Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight" performed by Dominatrix
"Kiss Them For Me" performed by Siouxsie and the Banshees
"Satellite" (live) performed by Nine Inch Nails
"The Hearts Filthy Lesson" performed by David Bowie

August 31, 2014
"Shadow People" performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-WSPC PREMIERE
"Push It Along" performed by A Tribe Called Quest
"Head Underwater" performed by Jenny Lewis-WSPC PREMIERE

"Jamie" performed by Tony Carey
"You Make Me" performed by Nick Lowe
"Only Love Can Break Your Heart" performed by Neil Young
"She's Changing Me" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Never Make Me Cry" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Still You Turn Me On" performed by Emerson Lake and Palmer
"You Do" performed by Aimee Mann

"Fix It" performed by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
"Take This Town" performed by XTC
"The Dealer" performed by Stevie Nicks-WSPC PREMIERE
"Boogies (Hamburger Hell)" performed by Todd Rundgren
"Vodka" performed by Moe Berg

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Released July 29, 2014
-The WLHA Resurrection/Reunion weekend made me return to this band whom I really cherished the most during high school when their debut album was released. This NEW 2 disc compilation album simply took me back to the literate/ornate/orchestrated and undeniably English pop songcraft that sticks so closely to my heart.

Released May 14, 2002
-This was the first album the bad released after a six year hiatus prompted by the tragic deaths of drummer/lyricist Neil Peart's wife and daughter within the same year. My Grandfather's sudden passing in July has left me feeling a sense of anger with the universe and its unfairness at times and this album's raging grief is what I needed to hear.

Released May 11, 1993
Released August 5, 1966
-Released 48 years ago and STILL ahead of its time.
Released June 24, 1971

Released June 2, 1998
-I am really looking forward to the deluxe remastered release this year of this highly underrated album, which just might be the finest album the band ever recorded.
Released October 12, 1979
-Received as a Christmas gift in 1979. Shelved until the Summer of 1987. Not fully embraced until sometime in the 1990's. One of their finest albums...PERIOD...and STILL ahead of its time.
Released November 22, 1968
-Writer/Director Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" brought me here. Not that there are any Beatle songs in the film (although there is a plot driven Beatles reference) but the film, among many other memories, made me think of childhood days, so long ago when I would obsessively listen to their albums over and again. This album was one I listened to more than most and it has remained my 2nd favorite Beatles album.
Released February 7, 2006

-I wrote extensively about this album in December 2013 and after listening to Madlib's albums, I found myself returning to this masterpiece.
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Released July 30, 1982
-Finding comfort in the past.
Released September 3, 1971
-One of my favorite albums...EVER!
Released August 1988
Released September 24, 1996

Released February 18, 2014
-As this month draws to a close, I have begun checking out the 2nd solo album from now former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, his latest vinyl only release which I have appropriated through the means of the internet file sharing (shhhhhh!) as my beloved little cat Jada ate through my record player speaker wires many years ago, making my turntable unusable. Like his self-titled debut, which I heard via You Tube, this new album is another blast of guitar driven, garage rock with Buck's vocals that are more than reminiscent of the gravelly, throaty growl of Tom Waits. I haven't gotten very far with it at this time of writing but it is a road I am more than curious to return to.
Stay tuned to this station to see what will spin in the jukebox in September!


Released June 10, 2014
As I stated at the very beginning of this site, Synesthesia is a place of celebration not criticism. While I still stand by that sentiment and mission statement, I do feel compelled to take some time to perhaps offer some uncharacteristically critical words concerning Jack White.

First things first I strongly feel, without question, that Jack White is a supremely gifted songwriter/producer and musician, who represents precisely what is indeed lacking in our current musical landscape as far as skill, creativity and overall musicianship are concerned. That being said, and aside from the brilliant double album "Elephant" (April 1, 2003) and a handful of songs, I also feel that The White Stripes is a hugely overrated band, undone by their own self-imposed limitations which led to a musical sameness that just grew somewhat tiresome for me. I thoroughly enjoy White's two other bands, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather and White's solo album debut "Blunderbuss" (released April 23, 2012) much more than everything in The White Stripes' catalog due to the wider musical palate combined with stronger sense of collaboration. And I have to say that if you happened to have seen the episode of "Austin City Limits" featuring White and his two backing bands, one all male, the other all female, it truly encapsulated just how brilliant and blistering he can be.

But something "funny" happened on the way to his new solo album and it was almost enough to make me not even purchase it, despite my anxiousness to grab a copy.

In the pre-release hype for the new album, Jack White, in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, continued his long standing beef against The Black Keys, once again bemoaning the idea that they had somehow swiped their sound from his own work with The White Stripes. White further went onwards to express the following statement, "There are kids at school who dress like everybody else because they don't know what to do, and there are musicians like that, too I'll hear TV commercials where the music's ripping off sounds of mine, to the point I think it's me. Half the time, it's The Black Keys...There's a whole world that's totally fine with the watered down version of the original."

Jack White, I do believe that generations upon generations of Black musicians have a bone to pick with you.

What irritated me beyond having to wade through Jack White's massive ego was his complete disconnect to the fact that he himself is precisely the much watered down version of the original and his lack of self-awareness to his place in musical history just made my jaw drop to the ground. So, yes, I was annoyed to the point where I nearly did not purchase the album but of course, I did and thankfully, "Lazaretto" makes not only for a fine new addition to the Jack White discography but it is also one of th emost musically diverse albums he had made to date.

Granted, White's vocal "Lawdy "Lawdy" chants in the album's first track "Three Women" and his intentional dropping of the letter "T" in words like "rotten" and "cotton" in his hip-hop cadenced drawl on the album's title track nearly put me off of the whole thing as the proceedings threatened to spiral off into parody. But, I could not deny that stinging guitar work, the Led Zeppelin styled swagger, the ever shifting time signatures and the sheer forcefulness of what I was hearing, which almost sounded like that "Austin City Limits" special put to disc.

"Lazaretto" is an album that contains what feels like Jack White's most straightforward lyrics about love and loss but those are combined with music that smashes various musical styles together so effortlessly. Where the ballad "Temporary Ground" carries that Gram Parsons/Emylou Harris vibe, the striking instrumental "High Ball Stepper" conjures nothing less than Ennio Morricone combined with that Zeppelin thunder. We have the narrative acoustic numbers like "Entitlement" and "Want And Able" crossing paths with the likes of "Just One Drink,"which begins with an obvious nod to The Velvet Underground but then shape shifts into a hillbilly back porch fiddle dance. "Alone In My Home" surprisingly made me think of that Steve Forbert pop hit from 1980, "Romeo's Tune." And a track like "That Black Bat Licorice" nearly defies description.

So, in the end, and despite whatever nonsense Jack White decides to spew during a promotional interview, which I have since thought happened to be nothing more than a stunt to drum up interest, the music has to matter. And as far as Jack White is concerned, it cannot be denied that for him, the music does indeed matter the most.
Released June 3, 2014

Released July 15, 2014
Both releases Produced by Madlib
-A few Summers ago, I somehow became heavily stepped into the musical wonderland of acclaimed hip-hop producer/DJ/musician Madlib, and what a deep and rich wonderland he has amassed through a wildly diverse and downright huge and prolific collection of releases (and even through mythical musical pseudonyms like Yesterdays New Quintet and also The Last Electro-Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble) that span hip-hop collaborations, instrumental jazz fusion albums, and encyclopedic DJ journeys through all manner of musical genres from jazz to disco and even the music of India.

This Summer, I have been voyaging through two new releases. The first, an instrumental version of "Pinata," his collaboration with rapper Freddie Gibbs, gave me a window into the world of how tracks are established to assist with creating the proper musical mood and landscape for the rapper's lyrics. And in this case, since I have not heard the original vocal version of the album, I am only left to guessing the lyrical content, which by the sounds of the actual music just may be as reflective, melancholy, nostalgic and moody as it is swaggering. 

With "Rock Konducta Volumes 1 & 2," Madlib's latest entry in his expansive "Konducta" series, we have a 2 disc instrumental travelogue through the world of rock and roll via a dizzying and kaleidoscopic collection of beats and samples of obscure European rock, Krautrock, prog rock and psychedelia. And like the music that inspired this album, it is indeed a TRIP worth taking.   
Produced by Ryan Adams and Mike Viola
except "Head Underwater" produced by Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice and
"Just One Of The Guys" produced by Beck Hansen
Released July 29, 2014
As it has so often happened with me over the years, I have this uncanny ability to fall in love with a band only to have them break up shortly thereafter. One of those bands happened to be Rilo Kiley, whom I discovered at the time of what would eventually become their final album, "Under The Blacklight" (released August 17, 2007).  Thankfully, Jenny Lewis, Rilo Kiley's primary songwriter, has returned with "The Voyager," her third solo album, which finds her largely in collaboration with the mighty Ryan Adams and creating a soic palate that sounds as if it had been recorded just down the hallway from Fleetwood Mac circa 1977 

Lyrically, "The Voyager" is a collection of short stories, character portraits and monologues, starring a collective of women (or quite possibly, representations of Lewis herself) all presented in an state of emotional turbulence or transformation and realized through the filter of strikingly well written and instantly accessible pop songs. The album opening and sugary sweet "Head Underwater" details the fractured mental state of a woman enduring insomnia (something Jenny Lewis herself has battled), while the story song standout "Late Bloomer" chronicles the tale of a cross country journey featuring a young woman, her near obsessive crush upon an older woman and the songwriter they are both chasing. Introspective insecurities and inner demons arise in the "The New You," "You Can't Outrun 'Em," the doomed romantic vacation of "Aloha And The Three Johns," and the terrific Beck produced first single "Just One Of The Guys," on which Lewis proclaims, "There's only one difference between you and me/When I look at myself, all that I can see/I'm just another lady without a baby." 

For me, the song that I have practically played on repeat is the shimmering, soulful "She's Not Me," the tale of relationship woe and regret from a character unable to process how her ex has moved onwards while she has remained at a point of stagnation.

Trust me, dear readers and listeners, if you have not heard the first class songwriting and warm vocals of Jenny Lewis either through Rilo Kiley or as a solo artist, I urge you to give her music a much needed spin. And if you are so inclined, I cannot express to you emphatically enough that "The Voyager" is an excellent place to start.
Released May 16, 2014
Now you all know about my passionate love for the 21st century psychedelia of Tame Impala, whose second album "Lonerism" (released October 5, 2012) was my number one favorite release of 2012. As I not so anxiously await future music from the band, I am pleased to be able to hear "Live Versions" a digital album that was first released as an exclusive vinyl only recording for this year's Record Store Day.

Having seen the band perform live, this album is a wonderful souvenir as the 9 collected tracks perfectly showcases the group amalgam of Beatles' psychedelia merged with the expansiveness of Pink Floyd and even Genesis, while not ever sacrificing pop songcraft. One thing I also appreciated was how raw of a recording this actually happens to be. Unlike most live albums that are later tweaked or heavily augmented in the studio, this album feels like the real deal as we can hear bandleader/guitarist Kevin Parker's voice crack on a few occasions and a couple of other minor missteps that come from a band playing music this complicated.

Now...bring on LP3 already!!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Produced by Tom Petty, Mike Campbell and Ryan Ulyate

All music and lyrics by Tom Petty 
except "Fault Lines" music and lyrics by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell

Tom Petty: Lead vocals, backing vocals, rhythm guitars, fuzz bass, high bass

Mike Campbell: Lead guitar
Benmont Tench: Piano, organ, electric piano, keyboards, synthesizers, mellotron
Scott Thurston: Harmonica, guitars
Ron Blair: Bass guitars
Steve Ferrone: Drums, percussion

Released July 29, 2014

A few years ago, I was watching an interview with Tom Petty as conducted by PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley. During the course of the interview, Smiley asked Petty what it felt like to be approaching the age of 60, especially as a performing artist in rock and roll. Petty responded slyly by expressing that when he was a much younger man and just beginning as a working musician, he looked to the age of 60 as being the time at wen he thought that life would be pretty much "wrapped up." Now that he was just at about that age, he is adamant that his musical activities were indeed not anywhere near being wrapped up and he still felt that he had much more to say. Does he ever and let us all be thankful that he does.

"Hypnotic Eye," the thirteen studio album from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and their first release to hit the charts at #1, is a snarling, tightly wound collection that finds the 63 year old Petty and his musical compatriots in peak form and with no signs of slowing down or becoming musically irrelevant. In contrast to the psychedelic "Mudcrutch" (released April 29, 2008), Petty reunion with his pre-Heartbreakers band and the expansive, blues based "Mojo" (released June 15, 2010), the previous album with the Heartbreakers, "Hypnotic Eye" is a blast of raw, garage rock and rock power performed with the exuberance of teenagers thrashing around but with the musical complexity and texture that comes from seasoned veterans. Lyrically, however, Petty is in a ferocious, yet grimly contemplative, mood as he looks out across the national landscape and clearly does not like what he sees, therefore making the new album not only a musically political companion piece to Bruce Springsteen's "High Hopes" (released January 14, 2014) and even The Roots' "...and then you shoot your cousin" (released May 19, 2014) but also as an update of Petty and the Heartbreakers' angry and elegiac "The Last DJ" (released October 8, 2002).

"Hypnotic Eye" opens with the petulant stomp of the brilliantly entitled "American Dream Plan B," the first of the album's several character monologues that merge the frustrations of the disenfranchised and disappointed with Petty's singular and trademark resolve.

"Well, my mama's so sad, daddy's just mad
'Cause I ain't gonna have the chance he had
My success is anybody's guess,
But like a fool I'm bettin' on happiness
I got a dream, I'm gonna fight 'til I get it
I got a dream, I'm gonna fight 'til I get it right..."  

The turbulence continues with "Fault Lines." Propelled by stinging double tracked guitar riffs and Steve Ferrone's near calypso drum patterns, this track serves to illustrate exactly why Petty is one of our golden rock and roll songwriting treasures as his sheer economy of words reveals a world of emotions that could shift from the interpersonal to the society at large ("See those fault lines laid out like landmines/It's hard to relax/A promise broken, the ground breaks open/Love falls through the cracks"). 

Throughout the album, we are given portraits of desolation in "Burnt Out Town", and the voices of those cast aside in the despairing, Bo Diddley beat driven "Forgotten Man" ("Well, I feel like a four letter word/I know what few can know/How angry words can pierce the heart/How a soul can sink so low"). Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers also give us more intimate narrative of shady, philandering characters seeking redemption in "Sins Of My Youth" as well as the disturbing velocity of "All You Can Carry" which expertly evokes either the rushed life saving escape from California wildfires or more truthfully, any oncoming apocalypse that threatens to sweep us away in its shock waves ("Take what you, all you can carry/Take what you can and leave the past behind/We gotta run").

The serendipitous timeliness of the bluesy "Power Drunk" cannot be overstated, most especially in our so-called "post-racial" society and the current devastating conflicts occurring in the embattled Fergurson, Missouri. In Petty's trademark drawl, he sings the following:

"Pin on a badge and a man begins to change
Starts believing that there's nothing out of his range
You and I are left in the wind
In the wake of a rich man's sin" 

Political and poetic, thoughtful and tenacious, the album closing "Shadow People," which runs nearly seven minutes is the band's lament at the increasing sense of interpersonal disconnect within our culture at despite all of or technological advances designed to bring us closer together. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers somberly deliver an all too true vision of a world where people have ceased to try and know each other beyond any aspect of stereotypes and even archetypes, therefore making all of us exist within some ephemeral state, unable to determine any specific characteristics of anyone other than ourselves, and losing ourselves in the process, therefore bringing about or own extinction.

"And this one carries a gun for the USA
He's a 21st Century man
And he's scary as hell
'Cause when he's afraid
He'll destroy everything he don't understand"

This track has got to be the most chilling piece of music the band has ever laid down, as far as I am able to remember as I course through my mental history of the band's discography. And how rightly so, as Petty lyrics throughout the album are so up to the minute, and brilliantly so, as he also does not name any specifics, therefore allowing all of us listening to make any necessary connections and interpretations.

"Hypnotic Eye" is also not entirely consumed with doom and gloom. The Prince-ly entitled "U Get Me High" seems to be a nod to the magic of inspiration itself, complete with a classic Petty sing-a-long chorus while "Full Grown Boy" is a soft-shoe jazz shuffle of romantic adoration.

And then, there's the glorious "Red River," a song that could just exist a few miles from the psychedelic "Crystal River" as performed by Petty's Mudcrutch combo. A character study of a gypsy woman who possesses "a 3D Jesus in a picture frame" as well as a rosary, rabbit's foot, black cat bone and tiger tooth, extends itself to the dreamworld of the song's title location, a free flowing, love blooming utopian respite from the remainder of the American landscape as depicted through "Hypnotic Eye."

"So meet me tonight at the red river
Where the water is clear and cold
Meet me tonight at the red river
And look down into your soul" 

"Red River" finds Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers still majestically able to spin sonic power pop gold as the track simply flies. It is a song that already feels as if it is a classic, made all the more remarkable that it is brand new, as it was recorded on November 20, 2013, as written in the liner notes. Tom Petty's voice sounds so sublimely youthful as if none of the years have passed by and completely belying the fact that he is now three years past the age of being "wrapped up," as he once mused so long ago.

This is the triumph of this long standing American rock and roll treasure that is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, serious musicians who have the uncanny ability to make it all look so effortless and easy when in truth what we receive are the results of their artistry which is achieved through diligence, commitment and the tenacity that comes with the work of ensuring every song is a great song.

"Hypnotic Eye" extends the musical legacy of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers richly and beautifully with vitality, grit, heart, empathy and truth, the precise kind that is in such sadly short supply these days.

Monday, August 4, 2014


When R.E.M. amicably decided to conclude their 31 year musical odyssey, I was not prepared in any conceivable way for how their disbanding would effect me.

Now this is not to say that I was ever a rabid R.E.M. fan. I wasn't. While I have been attentive to the band's journey throughout the entirety of their career, my emotions concerning the have run the gamut from appreciation, irritation, curiosity, fascination, rapturous love, crushing disappointment, vehement rejection, the fullest of embraces and now that they are gone, I was forced to re-evaluate their entire discography and history and I now realize and understand just how original, innovative and idiosyncratic of a band they actually were. With their magical alchemy and musical amalgam of enigmatic folk songs, pastoral acoustic pop, bubblegum hits, explosively heartfelt political statements, experimental and expansive alternative rock, sidesteps into country, soul and funk merged alongside layers of guitars and soaring harmony vocals, R.E.M. crafted a sound that was distinctly Southern and at times nostalgic, while also existing as a sound of its own universe and often ahead of the curve.

Drummer Bill Berry, Guitar hero Peter Buck, Bassist/Vocalist/Multi-instrumentalist Mike Mills and the inimitable Michael Stipe, one of the most charismatic frontmen to ever grace rock and roll, as the collective of R.E.M. truly sounded like no one other than themselves, and even more importantly, there's not a band, before or since, that really ever sounded like them.
This Spring for Record Store Day, R.E.M. released a jewel from their extensive unreleased archives for all of you vinyl obsessive out there. "Unplugged 1991/2001 The Complete Sessions" (released April 19, 2014) is a quadruple set collecting the band's full performances from their appearances on the classic MTV television program, and including 11 performances which had been previously unreleased. Now I have to say that I did not make this purchase on that special day not solely due to what I would have imagined to have been the hefty cost, but also due to a certain beloved yet mischievous four legged, furry feline that once ate through the speaker wire of my stereo many years ago, making listening to my vinyl collection impossible.So, I waited for the CD release a short time afterwards.

What struck me immediately upon the first listen to the album was skilled of a live band R.E.M. actually was, not solely from the actual performances themselves but from how beautifully they constructed their sets and crafted a show as their song selections and arrangements were absolutely impeccable.

The 1991 performance hails from the period where the band's presence was about to blast wide open into the masses upon the release of "Out Of Time" (released March 12, 1991), which of course contained the gargantuan hit single "Losing My Religion." The 2001 set finds R.E.M. late in their history with a career spanning set that includes then new selections from their album "Reveal" (released May 15, 2001). What I found to be very interesting is how the 1991 set finds the band almost filled with a nervous excitement, as if they are realizing that their fortunes are soon to exceed their dreams. With the 2001 set, it is clear that you are hearing a band of richly seasoned performers, executing their show with a slick elegance, the kind of which only arrives after having performed thousands upon thousands of concerts...and furthermore, Michael Stipe's singing is exceedingly lovely.

Listening to the "Unplugged" album quickly inspired me to go back into my collection to listen to some R.E.M. albums again as I have not really listened to any of them in quite a lengthy amount of time. What I initially thought would be a casual re-acquaintance with perhaps one or two albums, has transformed itself into a full Summer during which the predominant artist from month to month has been R.E.M. (something I think would be abundantly clear to you if you have read the July monthly WSPC playlist).

It's funny, but R.E.M. is a band that I have often felt to be more...autumnal, their overall sound perfectly designed for the sight of falling leaves, and the feeling that arrives from chilly late September mornings and the slowly fading sunlight that arrives earlier and earlier as Fall deepens. But for this year, R.E.M. has firmly found its way into being the full sound of the season as I am experiencing the band as I never have before, even as I have also taken to watching their music videos and have also begun reading a biography, R.E.M.: Perfect Circle by Tony Fletcher. Now, I focus solely on the music, this wonderful music which continues to reveal itself to me. And to think how so much of it initially passed me by.
Somehow, someway, the musical story of R.E.M. can easily be divided into three distinct eras: the early, formative years on the I.R.S. label, the initial juggernaut five album winning streak on Warner Brothers and the more turbulent final Warner Brothers years, which also produced five studio albums, after drummer Bill Berry's departure and retirement from the music scene altogether.

Now I have to say that I was really with R.E.M. from the very beginning thanks to Chicago's WXRT-FM, obscure and long defunct music television programs that aired on pay TV as well as from some friends, especially one who first loaned me a copy of "Fables Of The Reconstruction" (released June 10, 1985) back in high school. While not one of my favorite bands by a long shot, R.E.M. did initially captivate me with their sound of mysteriously mumbled yet harmonic vocals augmented by driving rhythms and Peter Buck's hypnotically dreamy guitars, which, as I listen back to their earliest material, amazes me because the band appears to be fully formed sonically from the jump. Songs like their now classic singles "Radio Free Europe," "Talk About The Passion," "Driver 8," "Can't Get There From Here," "Don't Go Back To Rockville" and album tracks like "Feeling Gravity's Pull," "Pretty Persuasion," and the elegant "Perfect Circle" were all winners in my book, but for some reason, they were still a band that kept me a bit at arms length. Or at least, that was the distance at which I kept them. Perhaps it was a bit of both.
This Summer, I found myself digging out copies of the band's fourth and fifth albums, respectively, "Lifes Rich Pageant" (released July 28, 1986) and "Document" (released September 1, 1987), the very album I actually featured on my very first WLHA college radio show in September '87, not because I was a major fan (I still wasn't) but mostly because I was somewhat familiar with it as I was just getting my DJ feet wet and needed to play something while I got myself situated with the archaic technology in front of me.

Despite my love of 1970s prog rock, concept albums, the complicated jigsaw time signatures of jazz/rock fusion music as well as all of the left-of-center English/European bands and I adored, R.E.M. often left me scratching my head as they felt to be as impenetrable as they were accessible. And to that end, there always seemed to be some sense of musical snobbishness that carried itself with the band, whether by design or not. R.E.M. was not a band that anyone had to defend, as I had felt the need to defend the value of say Genesis or Rush to my peers. R.E.M. seemed to be the band for music critics and journalists to be sure but also for kids deemed "cool enough" to understand them. And when faced with that perception, I tended to turn my back to them regardless of what the actual music was. I never really gave them a fair shake.

Listening to these albums now in 2014, I am struck by how glistening they actually are. How after their three initial and purposefully enigmatic albums, "Lifes Rich Pageant" was the first album in their discography that was designed to make a connection with a larger audience. It seems fitting now that the first track (on an album where the mistaken track listing has proudly never been corrected) is the rousing "Begin The Begin," on which Michael Stipe, through clearer vocals and crisp production, sings "Let's begin again," the song sounds as if it is a message of intent for all of the music to follow, not just on this particular album but for the music of their future. Where tracks like "The Flowers Of Guatemala" and the superbly haunting "Cuyahoga" once confounded me, I have now embraced them tremendously, their messages now meaningful in ways they never had been before. And songs like "I Believe," the raucous "These Days" and the shattering "Fall On Me" are just flat out towering.

If "Lifes Rich Pageant" was an album designed to make a connection, then "Document" is the album designed to make their full audiences engaged (just as Stipe sings on the opening "Finest Worksong") with the larger world as well as with the band. It is an album that sounds like a call to awareness, action and activism during the days of Iran Contra. Granted, the overall breathless urgency of the album, which features no less than "Exhuming McCarthy," "Disturbance At The Heron House," "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" plus the anti-love song "The One I Love," has connected with me for quite some time but to listen to these two albums together, it was great to hear the progression, to hear how the music from one album informed the album next to arrive.
I was nearing the end of my very first semester as a Freshman in college, December 3, 1987 to be exact, when Rolling Stone magazine anointed R.E.M. as "America's Best Band." This, I have to say was the beginning of my vehement rejection of R.E.M., basically for no other reason than their ubiquity. While this was certainly not the band's fault, I just felt as if the media and radio stations were going out of their way to force this band down my throat, much like how I felt the airwaves and print mediums were doing the same with U2 at the exact same time as they were riding the massive wave of "The Joshua Tree" (released March 9, 1987) and would soon be followed by their concert movie "Rattle And Hum" (1988) from Director Phil Joanau.

Also, R.E.M.'s ubiquity was more than confirmed by their signing to the Warner Brothers label, a career move that I ridiculously ranted against from some falsely purist pose. Regardless, I was so sick and tired of hearing about or even from this band and there was nothing I could do about it at the time because R.E.M. was truly everywhere as their success climbed through the stratosphere. Yet, over time, I slowly and grudgingly began to warm to R.E.M., as if the music itself was informing me that even I, at my most entrenched, could not deny music this powerful.
Now in 2014, I have come to realize and firmly understand that R.E.M. during this second phase of their story was a band on FIRE!!! The first five albums they released during their tenure with Warner Brothers represents a creative streak that most bands would kill for and many other bands never, ever quite attain. Their musical growth and reach was as meteoric as it was unbelievably prolific (much like their label-mate Prince), thus making their ascension so rightfully justifiable as they succeeded upon their own terms and with a ferocious creativity unlike many of their peers.   

Last month, I spoke of my new feelings towards "Green" (released November 8, 1988), and now, I wish to share my feelings towards the four subsequent releases...

"OUT OF TIME" (released March 12, 1991): This album was released as I was nearing the end of my college career and typically at the time, I paid it very little attention...sort of. My curiosity was always apparent, even when I was rejecting them but my was enforced by the constant presence of "Losing My Religion," a truly gorgeous song about the pitfalls of a romantic crush that, for me, was undone by the media's perception that this was the first song to ever use a mandolin and that MTV seemed to think was the only music video ever filmed.

But as I listened to the album this Summer, I now see that "Out Of Time" was as advertised, R.E.M.'s idiosyncratic pastiche of 1960's pop in 1991 that leaned more towards the pastoral or sugary breezes of Chad and Jeremy, The Association and The Monkees yet their experimentation clearly aligned them with the likes of The Beatles. "Radio Song," featuring the extraordinary vocals of Boogie Down Production's KRS-ONE, carried a groove you would hear on something performed by Booker T And The MGs. But it is through tracks like "Texarkana," "Near Wild Heaven," the instrumental "Endgame" and even the unfairly maligned "Shiny Happy People," that the band constantly brings joyousness to the proceedings, even when the songs contain melancholy hearts and souls. Only the truly enigmatic "Country Feedback," a longtime fan favorite, emerges as something that feels as if it is from another world...and compellingly so

"AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE" (released October 5, 1992): This album was hit with monstrously high praise upon its release and as before, I rejected it all as it just felt to just be a part of the release strategy for any new R.E.M. album. Also, the ballad "Everybody Hurts" became even more ubiquitous than "Losing My Religion" to the point that it wasn't until the band's break-up that I recognized what a richly beautiful song, largely written by Bill Berry, it really is. But even so, I remember walking down State Street and being beckoned into B-Side records to the strains of the dreamy "Star Me Kitten," a song that to my ears sounded like absolutely nothing the band had done before.

Since then, I have deeply recognized that this album is possibly R.E.M.'s finest hour as its collection of hymns and meditations upon mortality and loss cut to the bone with elegance and passionate commitment to making every single note shimmer and shine through the dark cloud themes and concepts. When the surprising news of my Grandfather's passing reached me, I instinctively reached for this album as solace.
"MONSTER" (released September 26, 1994): 1994. Another year, another R.E.M. album, another round of ubiquitous praise. Yawn. But this time, my resistance was weakening as the band's full on glam rock and roll album, with its more overtly sexualized textures and themes and fueled by Peter Buck's rainbow blasted guitar heroics eventually won me over and remains a favorite.

"NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI" (released September 9, 1996): Since "Monster" had swayed me, I actually purchased this album shortly after its release and mostly, fueled by the stunning "E-Bow The Letter." It did confound me a bit but since then, this release has become my favorite R.E.M. album as it feels as if it is the culmination of the first five Warner Brothers albums and it somehow even pushes further.

Opening with the funky Ennio Morricone influenced "How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us" and continuing onwards with more thunderous glam rock ("The Wake Up Bomb," "Departure," "Undertow"), more folk driven material ("New Test Leper"), power ballads ("Be Mine"), instrumentals ("Zither"), seven minute behemoths (the outstanding "Leave") and even more, "New Adventures In Hi-Fi" capped one incredible run as well as provided a fitting swan song for Bill Berry who retired from music afterwards. This entire Summer, I have listened, re-listened and re-listened to them all, discovering all that I had missed initially, the sounds phasing into the season and my spirit seamlessly.
Once R.E.M. became a trio and they faced more scrutiny and even indifference for their final five studio albums, oddly enough, that was the time I embraced the band the tightest and then found myself in the position of having to defend them despite their immense and unmovable legacy.
I really believe that "Up" (released October 26, 1998) was the only album the band could have possibly made after Berry's departure and they were essentially figuring out how to drive a car with three wheels instead of four. The follow up album "Reveal" (released May 14, 2001) is possibly the finest album in their late period. It is an album of Summer itself, a languid, glowing Summer where the band's melodies, harmonics and acoustic merged with electronic textures were just so very beautiful to behold.

Tracks like "The Lifting," "She Just Wants To Be" and "Imitation Of Life" stand out and as proudly as anything they had recorded in the past. But "I've Been High," "I'll Take The Rain," "Beat A Drum" and "Beachball," to my ears, are some of the finest, richest songs they had ever made. And Michael Stipe's singing reached tremendous new peaks as well. I felt at the time that if R.E.M. had decided to just be a studio band for the remainder of its existence, then this album showed how they could achieve that goal.
While R.E.M. did indeed return to the stage for more extremely well received live performances, even I was struggling to defend their studio work once they arrived with the maligned "Around The Sun" (released October 5, 2004), an album, which song-for-song is not bad or terrible but when you place all of those songs together they make for an album that barely has enough energy to spin in the CD player. These songs are just so fussed with, so overly produced, so hermetically sealed that the life is just sucked right out of them. It was as if the band was still trying to figure out how to drive that three wheeled car. and it showed painfully, making it the one album that I have not revisited this Summer.
What I have revisited are the band's final two studio albums, "Accelerate" (released March 31, 2008) and "Collapse Into Now" (released March 7, 2011), a one-two punch of briskly performed, tightly written selections that re-confirm the band's greatness and ability to create relevant, vital music even in the last laps of their journey.
My Summer with R.E.M. has been a completely unexpected one, especially due to its longevity as I have found myself not feeling the need to advance onwards to different bands and artists so intensively. It is not as if I haven't been listening to any other albums, as evidenced by what was displayed in the "Now Playing In The Savage Jukebox" feature for the previous month and what will be featured for this month. But, R.E.M. has been the band where every time I think that I just may be finished with this exploration and re-acquaintance, and I think that I may be ready to return all of the albums back to their rightful place in the WSPC studio archives, I find myself unable to return them just quite yet, feeling as if I have to hear them some more, even deeper and all over again.

That is the measure of the greatest music. The kind of music that one can dive into, like the deepest water, and emerge fully refreshed, reinvigorated, sated and transformed. Sometimes great music takes time to be recognized and appreciated as well. And that is indeed the music of R.E.M. for me, for even when I was confused and even rejected it, R.E.M. was always there, patiently waiting for me.

Thank you for waiting. Thank you.

Saturday, August 2, 2014



And so, life has whirled me around once again.

This past month found my spirit soaring higher and then descending deeper than normal due to two most specific events: my real world return to the airwaves via WSUM/WLHA and the sudden, surprising passing of my Grandfather, only six months after the passing of my Grandmother. Through everything, music has remained to keep me company, to lift me, to raise me, to console me, to distract me, to envelop me, and to love me.

Music never fails. I really believe that. Whether bringing people together in reunions joyous or sorrowful, music never fails. From the music of the radio station to the sounds of a choir during a funeral, to the songs of one's past serving as connective tissue to the present, music is there to receive us if we choose to be embraced by it.

I am currently writing a posting about R.E.M. and how I have been re-connecting to their music over the last few months as somehow my past, present and the season of Summer itself have all congealed to take me on this specific journey and I am thinking that music always performs the same feats for you. Why do we choose to listen to what we listen to? What drives us to return to certain music at certain times? It's all so elusive and completely tangible. We go to where we belong...

It's time for a new month filled with music old and new and I hope that you stay tuned into this station. And as always...

...PLAY LOUD!!!!!!!!!!