I don’t recall what triggered it, but I fell into a YouTube rabbit hole last night, zeroed in on First Aid Kit. For those that don’t know, First Aid Kit is made up of two sisters from the outskirts of Stockholm, Sweden – Klara and Johanna Söderberg. They’re in their mid-20’s and are a week away from releasing their fourth album, Ruins (January 19th, Columbia/Sony Music). Their M.O. is Harmonies, and my God can these girls sing. Simply flawless, organic beauty.

If you were watching David Letterman’s final Late Night shows a couple years back, you may have caught First Aid Kit singing Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” (dedicated to Dave’s son Harry).

In 2010, they caught the eyes and ears of Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst at the Austin City Limits Music Festival (I was there!). Conor and his Bright Eyes buddy Mike Mogis were at the festival with their awesome little folk supergroup Monsters of Folk (with Jim James, M. Ward). Conor and Mike, along with Jack White, helped get the ball rolling stateside, with Mogis actually producing First Aid Kit’s next two albums, The Lion’s Roar and Stay Gold.

Well, here we are in 2018 with album 4 about to drop. I’m not able to find who produced this one, but the three songs that are available now are great. And what spurred me into writing this post was hearing “Fireworks” for the first time this morning. You know the feeling, the kind of song that puts everything else on pause for a few minutes . I get a “The End of the World” vibe from it (which, by the way, check out Sharon Von Etten’s version). Ah, the heartbreak songs…

Pre-Order Ruins.

Rihanna’s Verse in Lemon

I’m always interested in what Pharrell’s up to, especially when it comes to N.E.R.D. He’s always super creative with the beats and grooves, so anything that comes along is worth my attention. A few weeks back, I saw some buzz on social media about N.E.R.D.’s new tune “Lemon,” in particular the Jimmy Kimmel performance. Before watching the performance, I dialed up “Lemon” to kick back and listen to the track. The opening part: “Cool,” I thought, “this is nice, but why the…” THEN, 44 seconds in, I understood. From the 44 second to 1:42 mark, things change. First off, the GROOVE – just what I love to hear from Pharrell and his N.E.R.D. buddies; but secondly and most importantly, RIHANNA takes over this shit, and unleashes a street-laced rap/rhyme that completely threw me for a loop. It’s power, it’s magic. And I can’t enough of it.


(P.S. As for the Kimmel performance, it features the dancer from the video below, but Ri-Ri wasn’t on hand to spit her verse, unfortunately.)

Jim Song

photo by Chris Crisman

Call me a huge admirer of Dr. Dog. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Thanks.

“Jim Song” has that special formula that instantly connects with me: slow, acoustic guitar ballad; a lovesick and broken protagonist; throw in some harmonica and the drums/band that come in halfway through. One for the downtrodden and heartsick. Deep down folks, he knows she’s not right for him, but what he really misses is his pride.

A beautiful tune, and an easy one for us amateur guitar players (C, Am, Em, F and G).

Well ever since you went away I’ve been a mess inside
And there’s nothing you could do to get me satisfied
And my heart’s turned against me and it won’t abide
But I don’t really miss her like I miss my pride

A New Year – some JD McPherson

Photo by Jimmy Sutton

Right on.
Write on.

Happy New Year! It’s 2018, I turn 48 this year, I have daughters in 9th and 6th grade, I started a new job last year, Donald Trump is President of the United States and – SCREEEECH! – music is still and will always be my refuge. Thank God for it.

With this new year come the familiar good feelings of renewal, rebirth and motivation to improve. I’m no David Dang Fricke, but I do enjoy coming here and banging on the keyboard, writing about the tunes that are carrying me through the day. So let’s see where this takes us, shall we?

I’m always up for new music discovery, and one solid area of today’s music streaming services – whether you’re on Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, etc. – are their New Music playlists that update each Friday (which still feels weird after going our lifetimes waiting for those release Tuesdays). Every time I listen, I hear something that perks the old ears.

Another is the discovery areas. Spotify’s Discover Weekly and Apple’s A-Lists are always turning me on to great stuff, new and old.

For example, if you like roots/folk/Americana music, check out Apple Music’s The A-List: Americana playlist. It’s chock full of great stuff, and it was hitting me left and right with new artists. One was Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s JD McPherson. “Crying’s Just a Thing You Do” has a cool old time rock n roll / rockabilly twist, as does his record for that matter (check out Undivided Heart and Soul).

Lots more to come in ’18 – right?