Every week, CKUA’s hosts submit their songs for our weekly House Blend playlist: an exciting new release, a beloved classic or just an old personal favourite. We mix it all together to create a sonic concoction that’ll help kick off your week. Check out what’s on this week’s playlist.
Bob Chelmick: Damien Rice, “Dogs”
A song that’s a dozen years old now and still sounds fresh. The airy lyric is propelled by an easy, bubbling rhythm, a sweet ‘hook’ and a dynamic that swells and falls. Very satisfying. And it has dogs in it!
Orest Soltykevych: Andre Moisan, Louise-Andree Baril, “Jamaican Rumba” by Arthur Benjamin
Arthur Benjamin was a 20th-century, Australian-born composer, pianist and conductor who spent the Second World War years in Vancouver. There he conducted the CBC Symphony Orchestra and broadcast hundreds of Canadian premieres of music from Europe. This was especially important to listeners who didn’t live in larger centres where they could attend orchestra concerts. This is Benjamin’s most popular work dating from 1938. It is based on his experiences in the West Indies, which he toured as an adjudicator and examiner. He wrote the piece for orchestra. We’ll hear an arrangement for clarinet and piano.
Lionel Rault: Josh Rouse, “Businessman”
After a successful 20-year run of writing and recording thoughtful and catchy folk-pop songs, driven mainly by the acoustic guitar, Josh Rouse has decided go a different route. He is to record and release an album of songs written using mostly the soundscapes and production techniques of some of his favorite ’80s artists: bands like Roxy Music, Style Council, Aztec Camera, Howard Jones, etc. His knack for setting a simple feeling to a breezy melody shines through again and again. I get the distinct impression, throughout, that he’s having a great deal of fun messing around in the studio with his new box of paints. Check out “Businessman” from Josh Rouse’s album, Love In The Modern Age.
Baba: Thievery Corporation, “San San Rock”
Nice mix of colours, styles and tones
Darcy Whiteside: Del McCoury Band, “I Fell In Love”
This recent release is a nod to Del’s first solo album from 1968, Del McCoury Sings Bluegrass, which goes to show you how long Del has been making albums. The song “I Fell In Love” was a song Carlene Carter, daughter of June Carter and Cal Smith, took to number three in 1990 on the Billboard country charts. Del and his band do an awesome version of it.
Mark Antonelli: West Side Story Original Broadway Cast, “The Dance At The Gym” (Mambo and Cha-Cha)
The energy in the mambo is unavoidable: the yelling, the handclapping, the drums, the brass! You just know something big is coming down. Things are a more relaxed for the Cha-Cha. While not a gigantic fan of musicals, I’m always up for a little West Side Story: the musical, the movie or the Symphonic Dances.
Andy Donnelly: The John Wright Band, “Black Clothes/The Black Jacket Reel”
The late John Wright does such a wonderful job of a Robin Laing song, just a beautiful love song delivered with passion and skill.
Tony King: Francine Thirteen, “Queen Mary”
Molded by her past, grounded in the traditions of the Baptist church, and her present, which is rooted in, as she says, “Afrofuturism, cellular memory, and the subversion of patriarchal archetypes,” Dallas native Francine Thirteen embodies the role of the seductress, poisoned apple in hand as she extols the sacredness of feminine power through songs like “Queen Mary.” And though the premise sounds profound, Francine Thirteen’s music is ultimately listenable because of the entrancing hooks and her lovely, ethereal voice.
Terry David Mulligan: Blind Boys of Alabama, “If I Could Help Somebody”
The Blind Boys album is called Down in New Orleans and who better to have in the studio and on piano than Allen Toussaint. The album won a Grammy and a Dove Award. This Marion Williams song is constructed to be standing long after it was written. It’s a universal message but the key is the delivery. Who better to carry this message than the Blind Boys of Alabama? Original member, Jimmy Carter, puts “everything” into the messsge. We’re talking goosebumps here. We lost founder Clarence Fountain this week. This song is his legacy. RIP.
*This song is not on Spotify. Listen to it here.
Kevin Wilson: Lou Reed, “Wild Child”
From Rock’s most succinct but eloquent champion of colourful characters, an ode to neurotic friends and the homeless wild child they just can’t stop talking about. The standout track from Reed’s unloved solo debut, backed by two members of prog band, Yes, was released in 1972. Desert-dry wit, dynamic narrative melody and groove, and Lou’s signature blend of exasperation and exuberance.
Amy van Keeken: Nick Lowe, “Heartbreaker”
Nick Lowe releases his latest recording, Tokyo Bay, on June 15 through Yep Rock Records. The EP again features Los Straightjackets as his backing band and includes this incredibly heart wrenching and gorgeous cover of Dionne Warwick’s 1982 version of “Heartbreaker”. The song was written by the Bee Gees and is a song that Lowe and the band would often play during sound check — Lowe being a major fan of the Bee Gees and their songwriting. They decided to include it on this EP and it looks like there may be more sweet covers recorded and released with this collaboration. “We’re doing another session in June, when I come back to the United States,” Lowe says. “So we’ll record a couple of new songs and maybe another soundcheck favorite, who knows? I feel like with these guys anything is possible.”
Cam Hayden: Buddy Guy with Jeff Beck and Keith Richards, “Cognac”
Great track from the soon to be released Buddy Guy recording, The Blues is Alive and Well on June 15.
Grant Stovel: Eamon McGrath, “Power”
Fresh off the success of his debut novel and tour travelogue last year, this well-travelled Edmonton expat returns to his home province this month for a bunch of shows including festival dates at Sled Island, North Country Fair and The Works. With a wonderful new album in hand featuring plenty of Alberta connections including contributions by his old pal, Peter Dreimanis of July Talk, a mix job courtesy of Calgary production wizard, Lorrie Matheson, and released on a real gem of an Alberta label, Saved by Vinyl.
“Power” is an artfully noir-ish work of lumbering, menacing beauty — slightly unhinged, dangerously careening, but never quite losing control.
Hayley Muir: Land Of Talk, “This Time”
Land Of Talk released Life After Youth this time last year, but I cannot get this song out of my head. It’s light and heavy, smooth and static, complex and accessible all at once. Singer-guitarist Elizabeth Powell’s soaring vocals are front, centre and deeply moving. They’ll be in Alberta this summer, performing at the Calgary Folk Festival, so it feels like the perfect moment to revisit this record.
David Ward: Talking Heads, “Mind”
Following David Byrne’s truly exceptional performance a few weeks ago, I dug out my Fear Of Music album and fell once again. Lots of strong pieces on this album, but side one’s “Mind” is what keeps me dropping the needle again and again. A mid-tempo tune with multiple levels of rhythmic pulse, the memorable lyric “I haven’t got the faintest idea”, and the lift off when an electric guitar riff bursts in at the 3:20 mark take this song home.
Kerry Clarke: Bill Janovitz, “Strangers”
Great, unrequited love song lyrics from a down-and-out guy.
Elliott Garnier: Father John Misty, “Hang Out At The Gallows”
With early reviews that draw comparisons to John Lennon’s “Mind Games”, this opening track from God’s Favourite Customer provides a rocking soundtrack to your next existential crisis.
*This song is not on Spotify. Listen to it here.