The Playlist:

The Picks:

Amy Van KeekenDesmond Dekker, “Intensified Festival 68”

One of my favourite summer jams. With best backing vocals by The Aces this track rates up there with many of Dekker’s other hits like “007 (Shanty Town)” and “Israelites”.

Oskar ZybartOrchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), “Isotype”

It’s always a nice surprise when a new release from a classic group can be counted amongst its strongest works. “Isotype” wears proudly a love for the music and influence of Kraftwerk, and the music video is hypnotically terrific too. Lovely electro-pop. Recommended.

Orest SoltykevichLuciano Pavarotti & Stevie Wonder, “Peace Just Wanted to Be Free”

The voice of one of the greatest tenors of all time, who became known for collaborating with various musicians, including pop and rock & roll stars.

Kathryn CalderElton John , “Tiny Dancer”

Elton John just released a beautifully shot new music video for Tiny Dancer, 46 years later, featuring LA in all it’s nostalgia-steeped american glamour. I’ve been singing this one in my head for the last few days!

Grant StovelMavis Staples, Win Butler, Regine Chassagne, “Slippery People”

The great Mavis Staples and the couple who front Arcade Fire have been palling around of late — Mavis is a featured guest on the upcoming new Arcade Fire record, and Win & Regine return the favour here by guesting on this blockbuster live album. The just-released “Mavis Staples — I’ll Take You There: An All-Star Concert Celebration” was recorded live in 2014 to celebrate Mavis’ 75th birthday. It features a mighty crew of talented guests, from Emmylou Harris to the late Gregg Allman, interpreting material from Mavis’ 60-year-long career. And the best part is that Mavis isn’t just the recipient of the tribute — she’s an active participant! Here, she and her Canadian friends take on a Talking Heads classic that the Staple Singers scored a modest hit with back in the ’80s. “See for yourself/ We’re gonna move/ Turn like a wheel inside a wheel…”

Lionel RaultSteve Earle, “Amerika v. 6.0 (The Best We Can Do)”

Steve Earle at his rockin’ best…grimly funny ; biting social commentary with a pounding back-beat!

Bob ChelmickRose Cousins, “If You Could Read My Mind”

Rose’s cover of this Lightfoot icon seems to lift the song to a new level of emotional authenticity. The spare piano arrangement has a lot to do with it. Reaction from audiences, live and on radio, is always enthusiastic.

Mark AntonelliTakako Nishizaki (violin) / Queensland SO / Peter Breiner, “Along The Peterskaya Road (a Russian Folk Song)”

I’m a huge fan of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet “Petrouchka” and was surprised when I heard this piece. I had no idea he used this folk song so extensively in the ballet. Keith Anderson, in the notes on the disc says the Peterskaya Road “is a trail well explored by Stravinsky” and that’s the truth. You’ll be forgiven if you think you’re listening to his ballet rather than a traditional Russian folk song!

Cam HaydenMonster Mike Welch with Mike Ledbetter, “I Can’t Please You”

Perennial sidemen Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter got together to make an album just for the joy of making music and the result is a disc that topped the Living Blues Radio chart for the month of May. This tune us a stand out!

Tony KingH. Hawkline, “Means That Much”

It’s telling that a gothic western novel inspired the nom de plume of H. Hawkline. Somehow suitable that the jangly, guitar work punctuated by vocals that imply some enlightened sense of being or perhaps a medicated state inform the sound of this terrific new record. Call me a sucker for Roger Corman movies, but in H. Hawkline’s work there is that same raw cheekiness that would make the record feel like a guilty pleasure if his lyrics weren’t so darned smart.

David WardRoyal Canoe featuring Begonia, “Fussin'”

Sometimes when auditioning new music I’ll keep the volume intentionally low and work away at other things waiting for music that makes me want to turn the volume back up. This new song from Royal Canoe’s forthcoming album did just that with its insistent beat, the handclaps, and the alluring voice of Begonia.

Dianne DonovanTerry Gibbs, “Yardbird Suite”

Could have picked any tune from the new album, “92 Years Young: Jammin’ At The Gibbs House”-but “this one” is close to my heart. Gibbs has been bringing us “great vibes” for decades! This album swings with a band that includes Gibbs’ drummer/son, Gerry Gibbs. I always say, “Jazz’ll keep you young, you just got to get through your thirties.”

Lisa WiltonKevin Morby, “I Have Been to the Mountain”

There’s a bit of a Bob Dylan vibe in Kevin Morby’s fantastic 2016 single, I Have Been to the Mountain. Bright horns and backing singers lift the song up, although Morby’s politically leaning lyrics keep things grounded.

Hayley MuirFuture Islands, “Shadows ft. Debbie Harry”

I’m a little late getting into the new Future Islands record but better late than never! It’s sparkling, fantastic, heartbreaking, uplifting, energetic. This perfect 80s synth track features Queen Debbie Harry on vocals and she is right at home here. Spin this if you’re having a bummer day and it’ll turn it all around.

Monica MillerPreservation Hall Jazz Band, “La Malanga”

Preserving traditions is important but equally important is allowing traditions to grow, evolve, mutate. This album proves that after holding high the torch of New Orleans’ jazz traditions for more than 50 years, PHJB is well aware of the fact that this is 2017. And this track? Just stellar!

BabaMammut, “Breathe Into Me”

Icelandic rock band based in Reykjavík, maybe it is the land, there is a flavour that’s so distinct, sweet and ethereal!

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