Musical Musings #4 (Top 10 Jazz and Rock ) + Feel Good

This week, I’ll share my favorite single songs* from various bands or artists from wide range of musical styles. 

*Note: Songs listed are not necessarily  from single albums but rather particular songs from a larger standard albums, unless otherwise stated.

Now on with this week’s song picks-

Top 10 Jazz Singles

1. Sunlight (*Single) by Esperanza Spalding 

2. “The Trumpet Child” by Over The Rhine (From the album, The Trumpet Child)

3. “Hard Times” (By The Crusaders From Old Socks, New Shoes)

4. “Prelude For Lovers” (By Fourplay feat. Esperanza Spalding From Energy)

5. “Way Back Home” (By The Crusaders From Old Socks, New Shoes)

6. “Bemsha Swing” by The Caribbean Jazz Project (From the Album, The Gathering)

7. “If The Stars Were Mine”[Orchestral Version] by Melody Gardot (From the album, My One and Only Thrill)

8. “Your Heart Is As Black As Night” (by Melody Gardot – My One and Only Thrill)

9. -I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’- (Performed by Brian Wilson from the album Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin)

Top 10 Rock Songs

1. “Munasawagi No After School” by LINDBERG (From the album, LINDBERG VI)

2. “Skies So Blue” by The Rocket Summer (From the album, Calendar Days)

3. “A Voice In the Dark” by Elvis Costello (From the album, National Ransom)

4. “A Slow Drag With Josephine” by Elvis Costello (From the album, National Ransom)

5. “Summersong” by The Decemberists (From the album, The Crane Wife)

6. “Onegai Kamisama Dream Come True” by LINDBERG (From the album, LINDBERG VI)

7. “Be My Valentine” by LINDBERG (From the album, LINDBERG VI)

8. “My Half Broken Radio” by LINDBERG (From the album, LINDBERG VII)

9. “Love On the Border” by LINDBERG (From the album, LINDBERG VII)

10. “Welcome to my Life” by Melissa Ferrick (From the album, Valentine Heartache)

Top 10 Feel Good Songs

1. “Country Roads” by Olivia Newton-John (Originally by John Denver)

2. “Streetcorner Symphony” by Rob Thomas (From the album, Something To Be)

3. “Sailing On The Tide” by The Carpenters (From the album, Voice Of The Heart)

4. “Power of Two” by The Indigo Girls (From the album, Retrospective)

5. “The 59th Street Bridge Song” [Feelin’ Groovy] – by Simon & Garfunkel (From the album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)

6. “Beautiful Life” by Fisher (From the album, The Lovely Years)

7. “On the Sunny Side of the Street” [Live At the Crescendo] by Ella Fitzgerald (From the album, Twelve Nights In Hollywood -Live-)

8. Today is Your Day (*Single) –  by Shania Twain

9. “Those Good Old Dreams” – by The Carpenters (From the album Made in America and the compilation album: Singles: 1969-1981) 

10. “New Orleans” (*Single) by Emmylou Harris

Share your top ten song recommendations in the comments below. 

That’s it for Musical Musings. Next week the regular in-depth review format returns. (I promise for real this time!)

Musical Musings #2 Southern Fried Retrospective with Rising Sun Swing? (Double Feature Edition)

Since Musical Musings was M.I.A. for a couple weeks, this week is a double feature, usually I review a couple albums of music each week, but this time, you’re getting an in-depth look on four albums that are a mainstay in my listening library. 

First, I’m spotlighting another album by the rebels of Folk Rock, The Carpenters, Lovelines.

(Click the Album Pic Above to find on Amazon)

Those who remember my debut Musical Musings review know I’m a fan of the folks who knew how to sing about love without being derogatory and tasteless, yet still honest and avoid unrealistic saccharine censoring.

While some of their signature love songs made it into their Singles compilation, it’s here in Lovelines where Karen’s vocals show all the facets and forms love can take.

Not just the “At first sight Puppy Love” or “Being out of love after betrayal and loss” but 

More so than than their “Love Songs” compilation, I feel Lovelines best shows all the ranges and ways love can bring people together, pull them apart, and the gray and shady drama and trauma in-between.

Highlights from this album-

It’d be sad if the title song in the album didn’t rock, but this one does, and I think it’s no less relevant now, and unlike some of their more well known songs, this doesn’t sound “dated” though personally, I embrace the dated when it’s for the good of  the music and done right, but this song is a happy medium for the modern day cool kids as they were for the teenyboppers of yesteryear.

It’s like “The Beach Boys” but Carpenters-style, yet less high school surf n’ turf and more classy and mature, but still with the fun hooks and bridges.

“If We Try”
I dare you to listen to this and not feel the need to call an old flame, if you have one, I don’t, but it makes me want to write about one. Again, mature and tasteful, with slow tempo with mild hook and slide.

“You’re The One”
A song for those us who found or (Like me) will find the one long after high school, it’s different, but still special.

“Honolulu City Lights”
I love the rhythm and hooks in this song, and unlike a lot of songs with a nod to Hawaii, it’s not stereotypical, and you don’t feel the “Tacky Steel Drum Effect” as much as I love steel drums in general, but you know what I mean, right?

Slow Dance
Think Modern Sadie Hawkins or senior Prom, and by modern I do mean 21st Century, as long as your music is not mandated to have rapping or direct inclinations to S.E.X.

Sometimes, imagining is better than exact imaging, at least a prude romantic like me thinks so.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Lovelines by The Carpenters gets my highest score of 10! Need a good love song for date night or just because, you can’t go wrong with the songs in this album.

Next, we’re heading to the trippy side of the south for the compilation from The Indigo Girls, Retrospective.

(Click the Album Picture to Find it on Amazon)

Somehow, this dynamo due of offbeat yet relevant tunes manage to tread the lines between personal and universal, something that struggling writers like myself find more an esoteric fortune cookie-esque snipped of babble that’s near impossible to strive toward as a tangible goal, but at least far as how this albums sounds for this newcomer in music reviewing, they’ve achieved this mythic balance with the songs put together in this collection.

Favorites of mine include-

“Power of Two”
This feels like an effortless jam session between two performers who are at home with their sound, in that rare kind of chemistry that’s hard to find between musicians themselves, and even harder to convey to the listeners on the other end, and for me, is a favorite in this collection, I don’t often go a month, if not a week, playing this song.

Makes me want to rekindle my lost love for the history behind the artist most famous for this name.

A classic, yet modern take on the song of rebellion, whether teen or not, one of the few rebel songs that I feel can speak to teens and adults the same, but in different ways.

“Get Out The Map”
Road Trip Rock at it’s finest.

This is the “Country” album is for folks who think they don’t like country. It’s less raw jug band and more southern acoustic R&B, yet not as morbid as some classic rhythm and blues songs are known for.

On a scale of 1 to 10, The Indigo Girls Compilation, Retrospective gets a solid 8.

For fans of the more raw Country fare, a solid contender is Carolyn Wonderland’s Album, Miss Understood.

(Click the Album Picture to Find it on Amazon)

“Long Way To Go”
Peppy beat, light pith to the lyrics, and Carolyn’s signature attitude makes the song work, without coming off too brutish, hard to do in this style of music that in many ways demand raw and rough, but as proven here, polish doesn’t have to tarnish passion, harder perhaps, but not impossible.

“I Found The Lions”
Feisty and Fierce, just don’t watch “The Lion King” right after listening to this, it might be a bit off putting, to say the least.

“Walk On”
A bit short, but fun and peppy, good for a road trip, even if that’s just to the mall and back.

“I Don’t Want to Fall For You”
If you need a “Down in the Dumps” slow love ballad, without the word “Dog” in it, Carolyn’s playing your song here.

“Trouble in the City”
Solid Narrative Blues Ballad with a light jazz tinge.

“Feed me to The Lions”
Nice, but again, don’t listen to this before watching “The Lion King.” It just feels…wrong somehow. Good song, though.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Carolyn Wonderland’s Miss Understood gets a sultry 7.

Last, but far from least, is the (So far…as of the original posting of this review) the ONLY album available in the U.S. by a new favorite group of mine, the now sadly disbanded, Our Love to Stay: Telepatia.

(Click Album Pic to find on the U.S. iTunes store, as of the original posting of this review, this can only be bought in the U.S. via iTunes)

For those who enjoyed my video Musical Musings some time ago, this is a group I love and listen to on a regular basis.

If names like Armstrong, Gershwin, Mancini, or Sinatra mean anything to you, or even if you’ve no idea who I’m talking about, but are a novice Jazz fan, this is an album you need to own, even if you’re literal understanding of Japanese is limited at best.

You don’t need to be fluent in the language to hear the heart and synergy of this album, and for those of you whose only knowledge of 
Japanese music and musicians are traditional Enka ballads (Think Japanese-Style Opera, but often sad like the old Chicago Blues) or J-Pop from anime or that one Studio Ghibli movie you know and love (Some of which is quite stellar) this is a good primer for seeing how non-Americans portray Swing Jazz in the spirit of the artists mentioned above.

While this is classified as “J-Pop” on iTunes, think Jazz here.

Favorite songs for me include-

Once again, the title song delivers and is worthy of being the lead off track.

“Give You all of My Love”
If Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald could sing and song-write in Japanese, this is what it might sound like.

“Anatawo Aishite Yokatta”
Hip-Hip meets lounge swing in classic “Our Love to Stay” fashion.

While it’s sad this stellar combo have parted ways, what’s even sadder is that their albums prior to and post this one are not yet available in the U.S. So, if you grow to love this swing revival band as much as I do, give the iTunes store further incentive to rectifying this by buying this album and sending feedback to Apple (Amazon too!) that you want the entirety of this band’s work available to download in the U.S. and Canada, or wherever you live outside Japan, since at the time of this review, importing’s the only sure way, and while I’d be willing to do that myself at some point, the shipping makes it cost prohibitive as far as impulse, hassle-free buying’s concerned.

That said, on a scale of 1 to 10, Telepatia by Our Love to Stay is gets my second 10 this week.

This concludes this special double feature edition of Musical Musings.

Until Next Time,
Rock on, Swing Low, and Cruise the long proverbial road to your own playlist.

Musical Musings #1.5 (Special Cheer Up Edition)

Sorry I was MIA last week, lots of non-writing related, as well writing related snafus brought me down, and the blog, along with my new WIP novel suffered because of it.

I won’t say much now to avoid a rant that helps neither you nor me, so instead, here’s a video I hope will lift your spirits, as it does mine. (All you die hard realists, the following video might be seen as sappy and too cute to exist, but some of us need it to avoid being drunks or bitter old sticks in the mud, okay?)

Everyone else, enjoy! 

Ciao for now,

P.S. Don’t worry, there will be a proper Musical Musings review later this week if not today, but until things improve on my end, my posts will be late at times, but I will update some this week.

Musical Musings #1 – Down Home Jazz and Groovy Hospitality

Welcome to the first edition of T.A.A.’s Musical Musings, where every Monday I’ll talk about my second love after writing fiction, music, give a review of various music albums, and profile an artist I love and why.

Now since this is the debut edition of Musical Musings, I want to start with two albums that speak to two parts of myself, the “Golden Oldie Lover Under 30” part of me, and the “Modern Eclectic Rebel, again, under 30” part of me. Sometimes at odds. But are equally vital pieces to myself.

Let’s begin with a compilation of one of the most influential music duos in my life, and to give you a hint, they’re not anyone on the current top charts, and have been dead nearly (if not over) three decades.

Give up? It’s The Carpenters – Singles (1969-1981)

(Click the Album Picture to find it on Amazon)

If you’re tired of songs about bashing politicians, glorifying gender inequality,shallow lyrics and perverse sexual escapades, stay with this blog post.

I first heard a Carpenter’s song when I was eight years old on one of those Time Life CD collection commercials (For those born after the 90s, this was pre-1st gen iPod (Now called Classic) and iTunes was still a technological pipe dream).

But it wasn’t until my early teens that I bought a copy of their most well known singles that spanned a wide range when they were on top in their career, before things got “Heavy and Trippy” as it might be described in the culture at the time.

Instead of listening to “My Generation’s music”, which was dense with hip hop and heavy metal stuff that was simply not my thing, often it was the ballads and show tunes of old that did it for me, when it wasn’t Mozart and Beethoven (Yeah, I was not a mainstream kid, and proud of it, just wish it wasn’t as lonely).

Back to the point, this album a great primer for newbies to the groovy, yet timeless feel of a group that may sound tame compared to the envelopes being pushed and pretty much torn to shreds today, turned many heads in their prime.

In one sense, you could say they were one of the many musical counterparts to writers like Judy Blume Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, or Ellen Hopkins who are no strangers to the banning and censorship challenges relating to their books,

Many of my favorite songs are in this complication, most notably are-

“Rainy Days and Mondays”

For being “The most hated day in the week” we got one heck of a righteous song for it.

“Goodbye to Love”

I guess you could call it “The love song for people who’ve had it with love songs” subversive kind of thing. But like many of the more serious matured tunes, it has a tinge of hope, which I certainly appreciate.

“It’s Going To Take Some Time”

For impatient folks like me, this is a life mantra in addition to being a bang-up song.

“Those Good Old Dreams”

I’ll wager you a cheesecake that you can’t help wanting sing along to this one, even if you aren’t musically inclined.


If you, or your kids/grandkids were raised on Sesame Street, you’ll have heard this song before, but hearing Karen’s take on it brings a more timeless feel to it, not that it needed any extra help there, but these days you flaunt whatever you can, right?

“All You Get From Love Is A Love Song”

In that same viral “Love song for folks who’ve had it with love song” vibe, but clearly more overtly cheeky and humorous than the more subtle and open-ended “Goodbye To Love.”

Karen’s vocals bring it all home, it’s strong, while retaining that uniquely feminine pitch, powerful without beating you over the head. Sharp lyrics that aren’t pretentious.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most enjoyable overall, Carpenters “Singles (1969-1981)” compilation gets a solid 9.

For something more modern, let’s fast forward to the 21st century for my second pick for this week, a jazz

album by Catherine Russel titled “Inside This Heart of Mine.”

(Click the Album Picture to find it on Amazon)

Now this may at first sound like the old-school lounge jazz your parents/grandparents/great-grandparents even, worshiped as their “Non-Gospel” Gospel, if you get my meaning. But these songs have a faster pace than some of the hardcore 1920s and 1930s Jazz, but don’t sacrifice the charm, cheek, or experimentation this style of music was born with. The title song is a strong representation of what I mean.

Other songs worth noting-

“All the Cats Join In”

This is the kind of song that makes you want to open your own Honky Tonk. Well, me anyway.

“We The People”

Probably the only overtly politically inspired song I not only love, but want to dance to!

“Quiet Whiskey”

Only the world of Jazz can make drunks and family dysfunction sound almost spiritual, in a comedic sense, mind you.

This is Catherine’s third album and in my opinion, one of her best, and one of the few albums where I feel nearly all the songs are equally well composed and performed.

Her fourth album, Strictly Romancin’, came out around Valentine’s Day this year, but this a great place to start if you’ve not heard Catherine Russell previous two albums, Cat or Sentimental Streak (Despite the name, don’t think after-school special meets The Grande Ole Opry) it’s the good, non-cheesy sentimental.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most enjoyable overall, Catherine Russell’s “Inside This Heart of Mine” earns a 10.

That’s it for Musical Musings, so until next time, this hep rat has left the cheese shop.