Fresh New Tracks, Vol. 23 – Frank Joshua, Ryan Redwood, Scoopski

Time for another installment of Fresh New Tracks, and once again, I’m featuring three wonderful new releases by artists who couldn’t be more different from each other. They are, in alphabetical order, British singer-songwriter Frank Joshua, British singer-songwriter Ryan Redwood, and Philadelphia-based power pop act Scoopski.

FRANK JOSHUA – “Bluebell Wood”

Frank Joshua is a rather enigmatic but astonishingly-talented singer-songwriter and producer based in London. I recently learned about him from a marvelous WordPress blog I follow called Less Than 1,000 Followers that’s featured him numerous times, and it was love at first listen. Mr. Joshua has one of the most enthralling singing voices I’ve heard in a long while, and I was blown away the moment I began listening to his music. As napsebasty, the blogger who reviewed Frank’s stunning latest album Talk of Things so beautifully put it, “Frank Joshua’s poetic and far-reaching songs nestle deep in the visceral side of life, describing states of mind that can’t always be pinpointed or explained.” Wanting his music to speak for itself, he never shares any photos or details of himself, and in fact, his Twitter name is “Frank Joshua // No Face Just Music”. Despite his wish to remain somewhat anonymous, it hasn’t kept him from engaging with his fans and showing genuine appreciation toward them. Case in point, after I merely commented on Twitter and Facebook posts about loving his music, he immediately thanked and followed me on both sites.

Frank has released an impressive amount of music in only two years, including two albums and numerous singles. His latest is “Bluebell Wood“, a song so enchanting that I had to feature it on my own blog. The song has a beautiful piano-driven melody, overlain with dreamy synths and an exotic vibe that feels Latin at times, then Middle Eastern later on. Frank’s silky vocals are warm and comforting in the vein of crooners like Michael Bublé or Michael Feinstein, only better. The lyrics, written by Simon Pitheakley, seem to speak of a new couple tentatively exploring their budding romantic relationship, careful to not dive in too quickly, nor do or say anything hurtful toward one another.

The whimsical video, directed and filmed in grayscale by Diego Monfredini and inspired by the 1930s animations of Wladyslaw Starewicz, shows a young girl who appears to be sick in bed, with her mother sitting nearby, keeping a watchful eye. When the mother dozes off, the girl’s toys come to life, embarking on a myriad of adventures, while an innocent ballerina becomes temporarily entrapped in a spider’s web before freeing herself. Once the mother wakes up, all appears to be well, with her daughter happily sitting up and cradling one of her dolls.

Connect with Frank:  FacebookTwitterInstagram 

Find his music on SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloud YouTube

RYAN REDWOOD – “Once Again”

Ryan Redwood is a charming, hard-working and affable young singer-songwriter based in Lowestoft, England. I’ve been following him since early 2018, when he was lead vocalist for alternative indie rock band The Only Route, and reviewed several of their singles. After the band called it quits at the end of 2019, Ryan soldiered on as a solo artist, writing and recording songs influenced by some of his favorite acts like Oasis, The Charlatans, Catfish and The Bottlemen and Blossoms. He released his first single “Perhaps” in December 2020, and since then has released several more singles. Last September, I reviewed his previous single “All Said and Done”, and now Ryan is back with a fine new single “Once Again“. 

The song is a buoyant rocker, highlighted by Ryan’s energetic jangly guitars and snappy drumbeats. I like how the melody and tempo transition in the final minute of the song to a slow, driving cadence with aggressive guitar notes. And I’ve always liked his smooth but earnest vocal style, and how his strong accent shines through. The lyrics are directed to a former romantic partner, thanking them for supporting and loving you when you needed it most, and now that the relationship has ended, that there are no hard feelings over whatever shit may have transpired between the two of you in the past. Ryan told me the line “Fall back when you need a friend” is an assurance to a former lover that you’ll still be there for them should they need it one day. It’s another great single from Ryan, and I’ll surely continue to follow along on his musical journey.

Connect with Ryan:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Find his music on  Spotify / Apple Music / YouTube

SCOOPSKI – “Double”

Scoopski is a hilarious and wildly-creative power pop act from Philadelphia comprised of Scoopski, who sings, writes songs, plays guitar and bass, and produces, and Mrs. Scoopski, who also sings and writes songs, as well as plays piano and synths. As for their music style and sound, since I couldn’t describe it better myself, I’ll just quote from their bio: “Their songs range from lighthearted and even silly, to serious, emotional and heartfelt, all with the common theme of strong hooks and love of melody.” Listening to several of their songs, their sound to my ears is a delightful mashup of The Barenaked Ladies, Weezer and Blink-182. Some have zany titles and subjects, like “Dad Bod”, “Elon, Send Me to Mars”, “Pineapple of My Eye” and “Emergency Joyride”. Over the past three years, the prolific couple have released an impressive amount of music, including three 12-track albums – Bad Things Happen in Philadelphia, Things Are Fine and See You Soon – plus two EPs and several singles.

Their latest offering is “Double“, a song directed toward a hypocritical person you thought you knew well, with an exasperating set of rules for others that they refuse to follow themselves. Scoopski beautifully articulate these sentiments in straightforward, highly-relatable lyrics “Tell me again, what were the rules? They seem a little different for you. Am I seeing double? Or just double standards? Is the message getting through? I’m singing these words loud and true. When you’re hearing double, you won’t have an answer.” The delightful song features a bouncy, foot-stomping tempo overlain with terrific strummed guitar notes, lively piano keys, and exuberant percussion. I really like Mr. and Mrs. Scoopski’s endearing vocals and harmonies, which keep the song from becoming too overly serious. The clever, entertaining video they made for the song stars Scoopski DJ Juan Hedley, and follows a mask-collecting adventure game. Great stuff!

Connect with Scoopski:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

Find their music on SpotifyApple Music Bandcamp / Soundcloud 

Top 30 Songs for February 26-March 4, 2023

There’s so much incredible music out now, and this week’s Top 30 is one of the best in a while, chock-full of songs I can honestly say I love. Beach Weather remain on top for a second week with their beautiful “Trouble With This Bed”, one of the many stellar tracks from their debut full-length album Pineapple Sunrise, due out this coming Friday, March 3rd. “Sex, Drugs, Etc”, another track to be included on the album, spends its 24th week on my chart. “Night Bus”, the wonderful autobiographical song by Welsh singer-songwriter and actress Caitlin Lavagna, slides into second place, followed at #3 by “The Loneliest” by Italian band Måneskin. “Pages” by American rock band White Reaper climbs four spots to #5.

Three songs move into the top 10: the stupendous “Love From the Other Side” by Fall Out Boy, leaping 13 spots to #8; the sultry “Wild as the Wind” by British singer-songwriter HULLAH, entering at #9, and the lovely “Mayfly” by another British singer-songwriter Callum Pitt, at #10. The sole debut this week is “New Gold”, a glorious collaboration between British act Gorillaz, Australian act Tame Impala, and American rapper Bootie Brown. The song is from Gorillaz’ latest album Cracker Island, which dropped this past Friday.

  1. TROUBLE WITH THIS BED – Beach Weather (1)
  2. NIGHT BUS – Caitlin Lavagna (4)
  3. THE LONELIEST – Måneskin (5)
  4. BACKPATTERS AND SHOOTERS – The Zangwills (7)
  5. PAGES – White Reaper (9)
  6. SHADOWS IN THE DARK – The Star Crumbles (2)
  7. THIS IS WHY – Paramore (3)
  8. LOVE FROM THE OTHER SIDE – Fall Out Boy (21)
  10. MAYFLY – Callum Pitt (12)
  11. JUST BEFORE THE MORNING – Local Natives (13)
  12. TRANSMITTER – Sea Power (14)
  13. ANTI-HERO – Taylor Swift (6)
  14. DANCE FOR ME – Sam Rappaport (10)
  15. YOU GOTTA DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO – Darksoft (17)
  16. SLEEPWALKING – All Time Low (18)
  17. PEPPER – Death Cab for Cutie (19)
  18. TONIGHT – Phoenix featuring Ezra Koenig (8) 20th week on chart
  19. SAIL AWAY – lovelytheband (15)
  20. SUREFIRE – Wilderado (24)
  21. TROPIC MORNING NEWS – The National (26)
  22. EVERGREEN – Mt. Joy (23)
  23. SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather (23) 24th week on chart
  24. STICK SEASON – Noah Kahan (20)
  25. SOFTEN – Alex Southey (28)
  26. KILL BILL – SZA (16)
  27. EYEZ – The Arcs (29)
  28. WEIGHTLESS – Arlo Parks (30)
  29. I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU – The 1975 (22)
  30. NEW GOLD – Gorillaz featuring Tame Impala & Bootie Brown (N)

MORNING FUZZ – Album Review: “Wherever We Go”

As much as Twitter drives me crazy at times, one of the things I do like about it has been the thousands of musicians and bands I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know over the past seven-plus years I’ve been active on that platform. A great many of those musicians and bands are enormously talented, and some are also genuinely gracious and kind, and one act who checks both boxes is Morning Fuzz, an outstanding rock band from Long Island, NY. Formed in 2009 by singer/songwriter & guitarist Frank Fussa and bassist Chris Johanidesz after the breakup of their previous band Ultra High Frequency, Morning Fuzz was a short while later joined by longtime friend and guitarist Michael Cullari, then went through several changes in drummers (something that’s plagued many a band I’ve written about). Between 2009 and 2013, they released two EPs and an album Chasing Ghosts, then went quiet for a few years, I’m guessing largely due to work and family obligations.

They returned to making music in 2016, and since then have been releasing singles in fits and starts. They followed me on Twitter in early 2017, and shortly thereafter released their single “Silent Sun”, a fantastic song I reviewed and liked so much, it ended up ranking #69 on my 100 Best Songs of 2017 list. They followed up with a Christmas single “Magical Christmas Time”, and another single “Fellow Creep”, then went quiet again after yet another drummer left. They appear to have finally struck gold in 2018 when drummer Dan Leonardi came on board, and their lineup has remained intact since then. In 2019, they released a terrific single “I’ll Be Around”, which I also reviewed, and which also charted on my Weekly Top 30, ending up at #71 on my 100 Best Songs of 2019 list. They dropped another single “Field of Frowns” later that year, then in February 2020 returned to the studio to record their second album Wherever We Go, and we all know what happened next.  Halfway into the recording process, Covid hit and everything came to a halt. 

Chris, Dan, Frank & Michael

Once restrictions were lifted, they went back to working on the album on weekends or whenever the studio was free, finally finishing with recording in late 2020. Frank then set to work mixing the album himself. He recalled “I would come home from work everyday and just start mixing until all hours of the night. Then we sent the album out to The Lodge to get mastered. It took another year just to get that done and the vinyl copies produced. In the meantime we released three singles from the album and filmed a video for ‘Don’t Wait Up’. Then we did a live video for ‘Love To Hate You’ from our band studio, then shot another video for ‘Vigo’ (which they released this past December). After releasing only singles since our debut album, we wanted to make a full album that was meant to be heard as a whole, even though that seems to be dying out these days. We wanted to make a no skipper album with every song solid and engaging. Hopefully we lived up to the task. I think we did.”

Well, after listening to Wherever We Go several times, I certainly think they’ve succeeded, as all 11 tracks are superb. In preparation for writing this review, I went back and re-listened to their entire back music catalog, and was reminded of how good this band is. It’s also remarkable how long – with the exception of their drummer – this band has been together. In addition, they’ve written and recorded at least 37 songs over the years, which I think is a heck of a lot for a band that’s gone through a few periods of inactivity.

The album blasts open with the aforementioned “Vigo” a rousing rocker that sets the tone for the album, both musically and thematically. Frank told me the album is essentially about time, both in terms of how it seems to be moving way too fast, but also the need to try and make the most of it while we’re here. It also addresses his constant struggle to be more positive. All those subjects resonate strongly with me, and these lyrics really hit the mark: “We were young and we had high hopes. Where did all of the time go? Fazed out amongst the people. Left out, wherever we go. We’re chasing moving cars, forgetting who we are. Sold out the lucid dreame. The grass is never greener.” I love the hard-driving rhythms, fortified by Dan’s smashing drumbeats, Chris’s aggressive bassline, and Frank and Michael’s blazing guitars. I also like that all members of the band sing, with Chris, Michael and Dan’s backing harmonies beautifully complementing Frank’s raw, impassioned vocals. Finally, several aspects of the song, at least to my ears, call to mind some of the music of the Foo Fighters and Thirty Seconds to Mars.

Next up is “Don’t Wait Up“, which Frank says is “about the ever changing world with fads, styles, opinions, and everyone trying so hard to fit in or be a part of something because they feel like they have to. The message is, be yourself, do what you love, and don’t be pressured to try to fit in.” The song opens with Chris’s tasty little bass riff, then explodes with raging guitars and crashing percussion as Frank alternately croons and wails the lyrics: “It’s hard to sit through all of this noise. Everyone’s in love with their own voice. They jump the line and can’t sit still. Run along now, go get your fill. Don’t wait up.” I like that their videos feature mostly footage of them performing their songs, rather than trying to act out some some silly plot line, and this one nicely showcases their energy and charisma.

Love To Hate You” is another terrific banger, with a stomping groove overlain with gnarly and jangly guitars and more of Dan’s explosive drums. Frank’s vocals are more emphatic than ever here, as he wails the lyrics about a person who’s deeply devoted to and wrapped up in something or someone, but that no matter how how they try, they cannot reach their goal or gain acceptance from that other person. Despite repeated attempts that go unnoticed or keep getting beaten down, the frustrated individual just can’t give up or let go, no matter what, often feeling caught between conflicting feelings of adoration and loathing. “It’s hard to face you. But we are going to make it after all. Because I love to hate you. I’ve hit a hundred walls, but I’ll climb a hundred million more cause I was made to.

I think my favorite track on the album is “Sailing In“, a beautiful rock song with gorgeous chiming guitars and vocal harmonies. The song speaks to that rapid passage of time addressed earlier, and also how people come in and out of our lives, leaving their imprints on our souls and psyches: “Foot steps, reverse, come back, it all just starts to blend. Old memories or deja vu that comes again. I feel the wind, I feel like I’m just sailing in to find myself stuck in that same old bar of sand. Who knows where we are? Fools gold in our hearts, no time to play pretend. These faces come and go.”

This theme is further explored on “Calling All Cars“, in which Frank emphatically admonishes another to stop wasting their precious time: “I hear, you hear all those same words but in different tones. You see, I see the same world in a different light. You choosing your fights. Our minds, we’re losing our minds. Your time, you’re wasting you’re time and your life! Cars, calling all cars! Your time is precious, follow your heart.” I really like the stark contrast between the lilting harmonies and aggressive wails in the bridge.

Another favorite is “Last Night, Today’s Dust“, a lively, melodic rocker about sticking together through good times and bad: “We were caught in the rain. We will get through these days. We can’t force all the stars to align, but I’ll always be by your side. We will live in the now. We’ll erase all the doubts. No ifs, no buts, no other way.” This song has a strong Foo Fighters vibe, and Frank’s vocals even sound a bit like Dave Grohl’s in spots.

One of the most powerful tracks on the album is “Give Me Electric“, which articulates some of Frank’s songwriting challenges: “[it] probably comes from the most negative state of mind out of all of the songs. Struggling to feel inspiration, every day felt like groundhogs day. Creativity was not flowing. But life gets like that and it always jumps back. After hearing the song recorded, I felt fucking great!” The lyrics speak of wanting to feel those sparks – whether they be creative, romantic, or whatever – that inspire us to do better and feel alive: “Give me electric. Shock me up so I can feel alive, because I fear that I’m fading away. Because I feel that I’m fading away.”

Test Fire” is a poignant song acknowledging the pain caused to another, and asking for forgiveness: “I bottomed out, I let you down. For all the grief I’m sorry. Turn the page, don’t turn away. If I should shout please drown me out.” As it’s title suggests, “Manic Dramatic” features a frantic beat and lyrics touching on the risks of always living life on the edge: “We can be so erratic. We’re manic, dramatic./ As we pick a vice, we pay the price, oh do we. Somewhere down the line, our fate is blind, we’ll see. Worry all of our lives. Will we be alright?

Wherever We Go closes with “Strange Nights“, a beautiful, bittersweet rock song that’s also the longest track on the album. The song starts off gently, with a brief spacey synth that’s soon replaced by a delicate acoustic guitar and Frank’s plaintive vocal. Eventually the music ramps up as he laments about a relationship broken beyond repair, adding that he never intended to hurt his partner: “Right way, wrong way. Too tough to balance out. My way, your way, it doesn’t matter now to me./ There we were with all we had. Holding on to something that was wrong. And here I am, with all I have. I never meant to cause you any harm.

Morning Fuzz have come roaring back with Wherever We Go, a stellar work that further solidifies their already impressive rock credentials. They’re a great band, and I’m so proud of them for putting out such a strong, expertly crafted work as this.

Follow Morning Fuzz:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Soundcloud / Spotify /  YouTube
Purchase on  iTunes / Bandcamp

Fresh New Tracks, Vol. 22 – Oli Barton & the Movement, Magnetic Skies, Marc Schuster

New music releases continue at a dizzying pace, so much so that it often feels overwhelming. I should be featuring at least some of it on this blog, but alas, I just haven’t much felt like writing of late. But when I hear new songs that pique my interest, I want to share them with the world. That means it’s time for another Fresh New Tracks post, and today I’m featuring three terrific tracks from artists with totally different sounds. They are, in alphabetical order, British alt-rock band Oli Barton & the Movement, British synthpop band Magnetic Skies, and American singer-songwriter & musician Marc Schuster. I’ve previously written about Oli Barton & the Movement and Marc Schuster, while Magnetic Skies is new to me.


London-based Oli Barton & the Movement are a long-time favorite of mine. As indicated by their name, the band is headed by the wildly creative and charismatic singer-songwriter Oli Barton, with the Movement comprised of exceptionally talented musicians Jamal Lagoon on guitar, Marco Paone on bass, and Josh Needham on drums. Together, their eccentric yet sophisticated style of alternative rock is a colorful mix of post-punk and psychedelia, fortified with touches of funk, grunge and pop. I’ve featured them many times on this blog over the past six years, and have loved every one of their releases. Four of their songs have appeared on my Weekly Top 30 lists – their provocative 2017 single “Kinky” went all the way to #1, while “44”, “Martyr” and “Just Like Always” all reached the top 5.

On February 17th, they dropped their latest single “Paid Off“, and it’s a certifiable banger! Produced by the band’s longtime collaborator Jules Gulon, and featuring beguiling backing vocals by Portugal-born and now London-based singer-songwriter Carlota Rocchi, the song is an exhilarating, infectiously catchy romp. Opening with Needham’s galloping drum beats and Paone’s throbbing bass, which are soon joined by Barton’s distinctive croon, the song explodes into a chugging rocker, fueled by Lagoon’s scorching riffs, Barton’s vocals rising to an impassioned wail. The lyrics seem to speak of people who use others for their own gain, bleeding them until they’re dry: “I’m just a fraction of the fragment of what I was. The moment they penetrated me./ They just want to be paid off by you, by you, by you!” I love it, and the guys have another future top 5 hit on their hands!

Follow Oli Barton and the Movement:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


Also based in London, Magnetic Skies was originally formed as a duo in early 2019 by singer-songwriters and keyboardists Simon Kent and Jo Womar. With a shared love of 80s synth-driven post-punk and vintage analogue synths, they quickly got busy writing and recording an impressive amount of material they released in a succession of singles and three EPs – Dreams And Memories, Hold On and Into Paradise. They became a four-piece in 2021 with the addition of guitarist Carlos Aguilar and drummer Lenin Alegria, and since then have released six more singles. In preparation for writing about them, I listen to quite a bit of their back music catalogue, and it’s really outstanding. Their latest single, “You Shine On“, which dropped February 17th, will be included on their forthcoming debut album Empire Falling, set for release later this year.

Released via independent label ReprinT Records, “You Shine On” features a dreamy melody set to hypnotic driving beats and lush, atmospheric soundscapes reminiscent of such defining 80s acts as The Human League, Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode. There are so many fabulous touches, like the dominant pulsating bassline, gorgeous jangly guitars, swirling synths, crashing percussion and soaring vocal harmonies. About the song, the band explains: “This is a love song, a story about two people finding each other despite divisions from outside, and about being true to yourself even when that doesn’t fit with expectations from society or other people. It’s celebrating a really positive self-belief.” The track is accompanied by a stylish video featuring kaleidoscopic images of a beautiful woman dressed in a flowing, butterfly-like golden garment, interspersed with similarly-kaleidoscopic images of the band performing the song.

Follow Magnetic Skies:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

MARC SCHUSTER – “George Around the Corner”

Marc Schuster is an insanely creative, multi-talented guy from the Philadelphia area who I first got to know several years ago through blogging (he has a terrific WordPress blog called Abominations, where he writes about music and interviews lots of indie artists). Not only is he an educator, author, literary critic and visual artist, he’s also a prolific songwriter and musician, recording both as a solo artist and as part of numerous music projects and collaborations with an ever-expanding roster of musicians, including his latest project The Star Crumbles with fellow musician Brian Lambert (their song “Shadows in the Dark” recently spent two weeks at #1 on my Top 30 chart). As if all that weren’t enough, he also started doing a weekly hour-long music podcast a few months ago he calls “Tweetcore”, where he features songs by talented indie artists he’s met through Twitter. I honestly don’t know how he finds the time and energy to accomplish all that he does!

Though Marc likes to experiment with different sounds, styles and textures, most of the songs he records as a solo artist have a delightful, indie bedroom-pop sensibility. Not only are they infectiously catchy, he has a wonderful knack for putting a youthful, often tongue-in-cheek perspective on everyday situations and problems many of us have faced at one time or another. He doesn’t have a powerful singing voice, but he more than makes up for it with a quirky, endearing vocal delivery that never fails to put a huge smile on my face. I seriously adore this man, who’s also been incredibly supportive of both me and my blog.

Almost a year ago to the day, I reviewed his delightful EP There Is No Down. In addition to his work with The Star Crumbles, Marc has continued putting out solo singles, his latest of which is “George Around the Corner“, a sweet song he released on February 16th. He cleverly name-drops his neighbor George, as well as a few of his fellow artist collaborators like Tim Simmons and Brian Lambert. He elaborated about the song on his blog: “‘George Around the Corner’ is more or less about real people I know. George does, in fact, live around the corner, and he did, in fact, fly a fighter jet in 1969 (and the years on either side of it). The line about him not remembering my name was true when I started working on the song, but more recently he has begun to remember my name when I see him. Tim stops by for coffee fairly regularly if not actually once a week, and sometimes I stop by his house. The line about us not speaking, however, is entirely false. We talk a lot. But ‘speak’ rhymes with ‘week.’ And Brian did visit Philadelphia once. He was actually visiting family in Delaware when he made the additional trek out to see me. His son came with him and did take a picture of us waiting for the train. However, that was not the only picture he took. Also, I stand by my claim that sometimes the best of times move kind of slow.” If you click on the Bandcamp link below, you’ll see the lyrics to the song.

Follow Marc:  Website / Twitter / Instagram

Top 30 Songs for February 19-25, 2023

In the space of only six months, alternative pop-rock trio Beach Weather have become one of my favorite bands. Though they’d been around since late 2015, I first learned about them last summer when I heard their song “Sex, Drugs, Etc.”, which I loved at first listen. The song was originally recorded in 2016, and included on their debut EP Chit Chat, but wasn’t released as a single back then, and largely went unnoticed. After dropping a second EP What a Drag, the band went on hiatus as the three members, Nick Santino, Reeve Powers, and Sean Silverman, relocated to different cities and began working on their own solo projects. Fortunately for us, they reunited in late 2021, and began work on their forthcoming debut album Pineapple Sunrise, due for release on March 3rd. In the meantime, “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” went viral on TikTok and became a huge hit on alternative radio, going all the way to #1 on the Billboard Alternative Airplay chart. It’s also spent nearly six months on my Weekly Top 30, three of them at #1, and ended up at #3 on my 100 Best Songs of 2022 list.

Last August, they started releasing a string of new singles from Pineapple Sunrise, beginning with “Unlovable”, their first new release in five years. They followed in November with the melancholy but beautiful “Trouble With This Bed”, which takes over the top spot of my Weekly Top 30. (They’ve since dropped two more singles, “Homebody” in January, which I reviewed, and “Hard Feelings” this past Friday the 17th.) “Trouble With This Bed” touches on a romantic relationship crippled by uncertainty and unfulfilled desires, acted out by a young couple in the accompanying video, interspersed with scenes of Beach Weather performing the song, all on the same bed. I particularly love the song’s beautiful languid groove, Nick’s dreamy layered vocals, and that dominant bassline. 

I’m excited to add four marvelous new songs to my list this week: “Love From the Other Side” by rock veterans Fall Out Boy, their first new music in four years, entering at #21; “Soften” by Canadian singer-songwriter Alex Southey, whose latest EP Common Fantasies I also reviewed last month, at #28; “Eyez” by Black Keys member Dan Auerbach’s side project The Arcs, at #29; and “Weightless” by hyper-talented British singer-songwriter Arlo Parks, her first appearance on my chart, bringing up the rear at #30.

  1. TROUBLE WITH THIS BED – Beach Weather (3)
  2. SHADOWS IN THE DARK – The Star Crumbles (1)
  3. THIS IS WHY – Paramore (2)
  4. NIGHT BUS – Caitlin Lavagna (5)
  5. THE LONELIEST – Måneskin (7)
  6. ANTI-HERO – Taylor Swift (4)
  7. BACKPATTERS AND SHOOTERS – The Zangwills (9)
  8. TONIGHT – Phoenix featuring Ezra Koenig (6)
  9. PAGES – White Reaper (13)
  10. DANCE FOR ME – Sam Rappaport (8)
  12. MAYFLY – Callum Pitt (12)
  13. JUST BEFORE THE MORNING – Local Natives (15)
  14. TRANSMITTER – Sea Power (16)
  15. SAIL AWAY – lovelytheband (10)
  16. KILL BILL – SZA (14)
  17. YOU GOTTA DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO – Darksoft (20)
  18. SLEEPWALKING – All Time Low (22)
  19. PEPPER – Death Cab for Cutie (24)
  20. STICK SEASON – Noah Kahan (18)
  21. LOVE FROM THE OTHER SIDE – Fall Out Boy (N)
  22. I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU – The 1975 (17)
  23. SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather (27)
  24. SUREFIRE – Wilderado (28)
  25. EVERGREEN – Mt. Joy (29)
  26. TROPIC MORNING NEWS – The National (30)
  27. LUX ÆTERNA – Metallica (19)
  28. SOFTEN – Alex Southey (N)
  29. EYEZ – The Arcs (N)
  30. WEIGHTLESS – Arlo Parks (N)

Top 30 Songs for February 12-18, 2023

The Star Crumbles remain on top for a second week with their aptly-titled gem “Shadows in the Dark”, while Paramore‘s “This Is Why” holds at #2 again after spending three weeks at #1. Sliding into third place is the beautiful and sultry “Trouble With This Bed” by Beach Weather, who’ve become one of my favorite bands over the past year. Their song “Sex, Drugs, Etc.”, which spent three weeks at #1 on my chart last fall and ranks #3 on my 100 Best Songs of 2022, re-enters at #27, as I still can’t get enough of it. The biggest upward mover this week is the lovely “You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do” by Darksoft, jumping seven spots to #20.

Three wonderful new songs make their debut this week at #s 28-30: “Surefire” by Oklahoma-based folk-rock band Wilderado, “Evergreen” by L.A.-based indie rock band Mt. Joy (whose previous single “Lemon Tree” peaked at #7 on my chart last September), and “Tropic Morning News” by legendary alt-rock band The National (their previous single “Weird Goodbyes”, with added vocals by Bon Iver, peaked at #6 on my chart in late December-early January). I absolutely love The National front man Matt Berninger’s distinctive soothing vocals.

  1. SHADOWS IN THE DARK – The Star Crumbles (1)
  2. THIS IS WHY – Paramore (2)
  3. TROUBLE WITH THIS BED – Beach Weather (5)
  4. ANTI-HERO – Taylor Swift (3)
  5. NIGHT BUS – Caitlin Lavagna (6)
  6. TONIGHT – Phoenix featuring Ezra Koenig (4)
  7. THE LONELIEST – Måneskin (8)
  8. DANCE FOR ME – Sam Rappaport (9)
  9. BACKPATTERS AND SHOOTERS – The Zangwills (10)
  10. SAIL AWAY – lovelytheband (7)
  12. MAYFLY – Callum Pitt (14)
  13. PAGES – White Reaper (15)
  14. KILL BILL – SZA (16)
  15. JUST BEFORE THE MORNING – Local Natives (19)
  16. TRANSMITTER – Sea Power (21)
  17. I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU – The 1975 (11)
  18. STICK SEASON – Noah Kahan (18)
  19. LUX ÆTERNA – Metallica (22)
  20. YOU GOTTA DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO – Darksoft (27)
  21. EVERYTHING I OWN – Dom Thomas (23)
  22. SLEEPWALKING – All Time Low (24)
  23. DISORDER – Columbia (12)
  24. PEPPER – Death Cab for Cutie (30)
  25. OUT OF MY SYSTEM – Louis Tomlinson (17)
  26. OFFCUTS – Mount Famine (20)
  27. SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather (RE)
  28. SUREFIRE – Wilderado (N)
  29. EVERGREEN – Mt. Joy (N)
  30. TROPIC MORNING NEWS – The National (N)

The23s – Single Review: “Never Be The Same”

Hailing from Sheffield, England are The 23s, a collaborative music project comprised of singer-songwriter and electronica musician Rob Cohen, singer-songwriter Rob Gurruchaga, and producer Tom Taylor. Cohen has previously been a member of other bands and also collaborated with producer/musician Jody Wildgoose on their 2015 album BloochyKoo, released under the music project WildCohen (I reviewed one of the album’s tracks “Jackson’s Son”). He was approached in late 2021 by Taylor and Gurruchaga, who pitched their idea for a new collaborative music project The 23s, named after Taylor’s Channel 23 Studio.

With a shared love of acts like David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Blaqk Audio, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, The Cure and Thomas Dolby, the enigmatic trio clicked right from the start, and began working on song demos which they shared across the internet from their home studios in Sheffield. Eventually, they gathered in person at Taylor’s Channel 23 Studio to put the final touches and overdubs on what will be a full album of genre-bending anthems addressing these troubled times, steeped in feelings of fear and anxiety. Using analog synthesizers and synth guitars, they create melodic indie electro-pop arrangements that are mesmerizing, yet accessible.

Today, they share the fruits of their labor with the release of their debut single “Never Be The Same“, and plan to follow with a new single release each month. The song starts off with a rather unsettling electronically-altered sci-fi sounding vocal repeating lines I can’t make out, accompanied by ominous gentle synths. Rob’s clear vocals soon enter as he croons “The pain washes the world away, believe me when I say, everything has changed, it’ll never be the same. Never, Never be the same.” The music expands into a darkly beautiful soundscape of swirling synths, crisp percussive beats and gorgeous guitar notes. Though melancholy in tone, the beauty of the instrumentation offers glimmers of hope. The song is marvelous, and a very promising sign of what we can expect with their forthcoming singles.

The compelling video features vintage black and white footage of school children practicing those nonsensical duck-and-cover drills that were common in Britain, the U.S. and elsewhere in the 1950s as fears of atomic bomb attacks grew in response to the escalating arms race.

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Top 30 Songs for February 5-11, 2023

The Star Crumbles came to be rather serendipitously last year when singer-songwriter Brian Lambert, who’s based in Denton, Texas, reached out to singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Marc Schuster, who lives in suburban Philadelphia, for some help with his song “Kids”. The two originally met on Twitter, but had never previously worked together on a music project. Well, they immediately hit it off, so much so that they decided to collaborate together on more music projects, eventually leading to their creation of a new music act they dubbed The Star Crumbles. Last fall, they released their marvelous debut album The Ghost of Dancing Slow (which I reviewed). One of my favorite tracks from that album, “Shadows in the Dark”, has spent 15 weeks and counting on my Top 30 chart, and at long last ascends to the top spot. The darkly beautiful song has a strong retro 80s vibe that borders on darkwave, with moody synths and brilliant guitar work, highlighted by a scorching little guitar solo and Brian’s fervent vocals, which have never sounded better. The cool video, created by Marc, features pixelated renditions of the band trapped in an eight-bit Atari nightmare.

In other chart highlights, the beautiful “Backpatters and Shooters” by astonishingly talented British four-piece The Zangwills enters the top 10. Two equally gorgeous songs make big upward moves: “Just Before the Morning” by L.A.-based indie alt-rock band Local Natives climbs six spots to #19, and “Transmitter” by British band Sea Power leaps eight spots to #21. The lone debut this week is “Pepper”, a great new single by veteran alternative pop-rock band Death Cab for Cutie, who never disappoint.

  1. SHADOWS IN THE DARK – The Star Crumbles (2)
  2. THIS IS WHY – Paramore (1)
  3. ANTI-HERO – Taylor Swift (3)
  4. TONIGHT – Phoenix featuring Ezra Koenig (4)
  5. TROUBLE WITH THIS BED – Beach Weather (6)
  6. NIGHT BUS – Caitlin Lavagna (8)
  7. SAIL AWAY – lovelytheband (7)
  8. THE LONELIEST – Måneskin (9)
  9. DANCE FOR ME – Sam Rappaport (10)
  10. BACKPATTERS AND SHOOTERS – The Zangwills (12)
  11. I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU – The 1975 (5)
  12. DISORDER – Columbia (13)
  14. MAYFLY – Callum Pitt (16)
  15. PAGES – White Reaper (17)
  16. KILL BILL – SZA (18)
  17. OUT OF MY SYSTEM – Louis Tomlinson (11)
  18. STICK SEASON – Noah Kahan (22)
  19. JUST BEFORE THE MORNING – Local Natives (25)
  20. OFFCUTS – Mount Famine (14)
  21. TRANSMITTER – Sea Power (29)
  22. LUX ÆTERNA – Metallica (23)
  23. EVERYTHING I OWN – Dom Thomas (24)
  24. SLEEPWALKING – All Time Low (27)
  25. LOVE DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE – Crystal Cities (19)
  26. THEN IT ALL GOES AWAY – Dayglow (20)
  27. YOU GOTTA DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO – Darksoft (30)
  28. WHITE HORSES – Art Block (21) 19th week on chart
  29. SNAP – Rosa Linn (26)
  30. PEPPER – Death Cab for Cutie (N)