Posted in Listed

Favourite Distant (Re)Discoveries 2020

5. Isobel Campbell – Runnin’ Down a Dream (Song): When the first round of COVID hit in March of this year, it was not uncommon to see streams of people walking down our otherwise quiet street. I joined the walkers, as I always do, and this track was a main listening experience at that time. The great Tom Petty song gets redone with a hovering synth that sounds like a drone and Isobel’s barely above a whisper vocals.

4. Alice Boman – Don’t Forget About Me (Song):  My favourite track of the year that was actually released in 2019. It likely popped up on an Apple playlist early in the new year and was instantly slotted in as a constant listen. The two beat percussion that appears a handful of times is a subtle highlight but it’s the lyrics that really hit. “I don’t want to ruin this illusion/by saying something wrong/so I say nothing at all” – Devastating.

3. Bjork – Debut (Album):  At some point in the 90s I owned Bjork’s Debut album. And at some point in the 90s I sold it just to buy it back in the last year. I didn’t really get it all those years ago and it took a lot of listens to get it now. But when I did, it stuck. The dreamier second half which is what I ended up listening to the most. A great album by an extraordinary artist.

2. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (Album):  For the last two years in a row I’ve listened to Van Morrison on bitterly cold winter walks in January. The expert folk, rock and jazz musical bed creates a hazy world where Morrison speaks to you and tries to tell you his dreams. It’s an otherworldly listen that is breathtaking each time. “You breathe in/you breathe out”

1. The Beastie Boys – Beastie Boys Music (Album) – The Beastie Boys released this single disc greatest hits in late October of 2020. For some, this music has always been with us. Hearing “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” on a cheap ghetto blaster as an 11 year old in hockey dressing rooms, “Sabotage” at Lollapalooza in the early 90s, “Intergalatic” banging out of club speakers in the late 90s, and back to “Paul Revere” in a Vegas lounge side room to a small handful of partygoers. The Beastie Boys have never been too far from the stereo over the years but hearing this collection of songs brought their greatness back to the forefront. A must have for all 40 year old rock, rap, and alternative music fans.

Posted in Album Reviews

Isobel Campbell – There Is No Other (2020)

717AfLvStzL._AC_UY327_QL65_ML3_In 2000 I worked my day shift at The Bull pub in London and set out on my own for a Saturday night. I had a ticket to see Isobel Campbell perform as The Gentle Waves. It was a really small venue that I had never been to before. That night’s special was a shot of Bailey’s of which I had several. The quietness coming from the stage was occasionally drowned out by the bartender making a drink. It was a wonderful night, one of my favourites while living in the great city.

Isobel returns with her first solo album in 14 years. Like that night in London, her vocals are barely above a whisper but emanate quiet power on tracks such as “The Heart of It All” and “Hey World”. What really elevates There Is No Other are the little touches that separate the tracks. “Rainbow” evokes 1960s Californian tiki bars and there is a one person call and response on late album highlight “Counting Fireflies”.

The center of There Is No Other is her cover of Tom Petty’s “Runnin Down a Dream”. A drum machine holds down the low end, a synth creates tension while Campbell’s hushed vocal sounds like a lullaby. “The National Bird of India” says “don’t ask questions, he just is”. This is a good metaphor for Isobel Campbell, she just is and continues to create soft songs that that glow with a bright heart.