Television – Marquee Moon
The announcement of his passing on January 28th at age 73 sent shivers through me and thousands of others who had grown up with the belief that Tom Verlaine was the ultimate proof of how rock music could be. As the tributes flooded social media, the images of Verlaine remained as if frozen in time. His skinny frame and sardonic stare into the camera, the awkward haircut, and seemingly fragile wrists, dwarfed by his Fender guitar. Once again, the death of an icon meant thoughtful, if not sad reflections on Verlaine’s unique and haunting guitar-playing, accompanied by a voice so frail yet full of snarling angst. A voice Lou Reed must have wished he had, a voice emulated by Tom’s one-time girlfriend, Patti Smith. He was born Thomas Miller in 1949 in New Jersey, he took his last name after the French symbolist poet, Paul Verlaine. With college pal and future punk icon, Richard Hell, Verlaine formed, The Neon Boys, then later reformed as Television. Their groundbreaking debut album, Marquee Moon has been played by me probably thousands of times. I would sit on the floor listening, intently…on each listen trying to decipher the words, attempting to make sense of the story Tom was telling. While studiously exploring the how’s and why’s of the musicianship…the interplay between Verlaine and Richard Lloyd’s guitars, Billy Ficca’s impeccable drums, and Fred Smith’s ominous bass. Music like no other then or since. Rest In Peace, Mr. Verlaine.
Karamelien – Wait For Me
It was just a few days before the passing of Verlaine, on January 23rd another important guitarist died. Anthony Topham AKA Top Topham was the original lead guitarist for The Yardbirds. His story is indicative of post-war England where your parents could have a major say in your career path. Topham was at art school when he formed The Yardbirds, they attracted the attention of club owner, and fledgling impresario, Giorgio Gomelsky who became their manager. Encouraged by Gomelsky (who also blagged a six-piece R&B band called The Rolling Stones, until a certain Mr. Oldham stepped in) the other members of The Yardbirds wanted to turn professional. Mr. and Mrs. Topham insisted their son further his education, as they couldn’t see any future in this music lark. So, generously, Top Topham handed over his lead guitar position to fellow art student, Eric Clapton. The rest is history as they say, Topham was a fine guitarist as illustrated by a number of recordings over the years. Rest In Peace, Mr. Topham. Coincidently, Topham’s daughter, Leanie Kaleido has a new song, Wait For Me, “It’s about reincarnation”, she says “The inspiration for this song came through hearing the story of the relative of a dear friend of mine, who had experienced intense feelings of reincarnation… I think that, regardless of what you believe, the song speaks to anyone who has lost someone they loved very dearly” Leanie now goes by the moniker, Karamelien.
Glyders – High Time
Formed in 2014 in Chicago, Glyders is a duo, of Joshua Condon and Eliza Weber. Their new LP, Maria’s Hunt takes us into retro, down, and dirty rock ’n’ roll, with escapades into alt-country. Their videos suggest a quirky, but very enjoyable take on modern music. Glyders are on Drag City which is a good recommendation and the sleeve art is weirdly cool. Full marks!
Emerald Aquarium – Until I See You Again
This band tells us, “We are UK based project full of pretty sounds. No real specific genre, just dive in!” An admirable description. Well-crafted musicianship here. I want to hear more.
Spaceport – Window Seat
“I’m a freelance cellist from Minneapolis living on Dakota land,” writes, Arianna Wegley. She goes on to say that she taught herself to play guitar and synths and recorded in her bedroom. she invited her partner Todd Olson to replace her sampled drums with live ones, then Liam Moore joined on bass. But wait, Arianna has a lot more to say which is why you should visit her website. Window Seat is Spaceport’s debut LP, I’m impressed.
Squirrel Flower – Your Love
The discerning Pictoria Vark is a fan of Ella AKA Squirrel Flower and that alone should be enough to catch your attention. The fact is, Squirrel Flower makes special music. Intense and dare I say, “catchy”? With Mikey Jordan Lenderman on undeniably superb guitar, Your Love should be in heavy rotation on your favorite indie show.
Heather Woods Broderick – Crashing Against The Sun
Now here is a cut I immediately put on repeat play after the first listen. Ostensibly, a simple motif drives Crashing Against The Sun, but then you realize Heather’s singing and lyrics are really, really good. The Maine-born, Los Angeles-based songwriter recalls beginning her album, Labyrinth back in March 2020, then suddenly forced off the road for the first time in her career. She used this disruption as an opportunity to pare down her creation process and construct the scaffolding for Labyrinth. The result is an exceptional collection of songs. One small criticism, Crashing Against The Sun ends too soon. An extended mix, please.
Siv Jakobsen – Gardening
Now to an artist, I have been a fan of for a number of years, out of Oslo, Norway, the super-talented, Siv Jakobsen. Gardening is the title cut from Siv Jakobsen’s third studio album. There is something magical in how Siv puts her music together. I’m not sure what makes Siv’s recording work so well. Is it the double tracking (or more) on her vocals? There is something she manages to get across on her recordings that always surprises me. All the cuts here are certainly worthy of your attention. To learn more about Siv Jakobsen make sure you listen to our conversation from a couple of years ago.
Kylie V – Runaway
So much talent emerging recently. Over in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Kylie Van Slyke says Runaway is overemotional. Impossible I say. Kylie proves they can craft a deliciously sad, yet optimistic love song. Nothing overemotional about that. Perfectly observed. Here is an artist to keep a watchful eye on.
Jial Ling – RahJahLing
Right on time, just when you need a little nudge to explore the many facets of Electronica, Jial Ling an artist and musician originally from Baltimore, with roots in Taiwan gives us the glorious, RahJahLing. This one comes from 01182023 a tasty 3-track EP. Hopefully, a cut of this quality will guide you to delving into electronica without a hint of bias.
PS: Play this mix loud.
The Podcast Is available here!
Artwork by Skip Peterson “Threatening sky at dusk” 2021 26″ x 26″ Treated digital print on tempered glass. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection