Every week, CKUA’s hosts submit their songs for our weekly House Blend playlis: 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.
Roy Forbes: Bettye Lavette, “Things Have Changed”
The kick-off track from one of the best albums I’ve heard in many years.
Lisa Wilton: Arthur Buck, “Are You Electrified?”
An impromptu collaboration in Mexico led to what should be a highlight of the spring-summer album slate. Veteran singer-songwriter, Joseph Arthur, taps into the anxiety and frustration many are feeling about the current state of U.S. politics and world affairs. Former R.E.M. guitarist, Peter Buck, lays down surprisingly upbeat riffs and electronic flourishes. “Are You Electrified?” is the lead single from Arthur Buck’s self-titled, debut album, which comes out June 15th.
Cathy Ennis: Holly Cole, “I’m Beginning To See The Light”
Holly is Holly Cole’s first studio album in five years. A recording of jazz standards, mostly, including this one by Duke Ellington, Don George, Johnny Hodges, and Harry James. She’s never sounded better to my ears and I love the instrumentation on this track. Cole uses an exemplary cast of both NYC and Toronto musicians: Aaron Davis on piano, Davide DiRenzo and Justin Faulkner on drums, David Piltch and Ben Street on bass, John Johnson on woodwinds and Larry Goldings on the Hammond B3 Organ. Oh, and we can catch her live June 16th at the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge as part of that city’s Jazz and Blues Festival.
Matt Masters: Justine Vandergrift, “Stay”
This local release has “Stay”ed in my head in all the right ways since I first heard it.
Orest Soltykevych: Fred Sautter, Roger Sherman, “Sonata Seconda for Trumpet & Organ” by Giovanni Buonaventura Viviani
Giovanni Buonaventura Viviani was a 17th-century, Italian composer and violinist who spent some 20 years in Innsbruck. The court trumpeters in Innsbruck were quite renowned and it’s possible that Viviani was impressed with them enough to have written some works that feature the trumpet.
*This song is not on Spotify. Listen for it on CKUA this week.
Folk Routes: Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, “Get Together”
It’s an anthem redone as relevant today as it was in the ’60s when Chet Power, aka Dino Valenti, first wrote it. Can’t we just get along ?
Andy Donnelly: Jackie Leven, “Working Alone/A Blessing”
We were truly blessed to have this man walk among us once. His music was and is a meditation for life and his spirit was and still is mighty. Bless you, Jackie, you are sorely missed.
Darcy Whiteside: Tom T. Hall, “Homecoming”
Tom T. Hall is one of my most favourite songwriters. This song just captures the “duty drop-in” by an active son. As the great storyteller that Tom T. Hall is, so much is said without actually saying it. As it’s Father’s Day, I was debating choosing a happy Father’s Day song, or something a little more complicated. This is definitely a complicated relationship.
Cathy Ennis: GoGo Penguin, “Bardo”
I like the concept of “Bardo”. In Tibetan Buddhism, it’s a state of existence between death and rebirth, varying in length according to a person’s conduct in life. And I really like the sound of this track by GoGo Penguin, a trio out of Manchester, U.K., who will be performing at this year’s Edmonton International Jazz Festival at the Yardbird Suite on June 26th.
Cam Hayden: Kid Ramos, “Mashed Potatoes and Chili”
Great new CD by one of the premier blues guitarists out there. Could have picked any track off the Old School disc but this instrumental is fun.
Lionel Rault: They MIght Be Giants, “When The Lights Come On”
For over 30 years, John Linnell and John Flansburgh and the band, They Might Be Giants, have been crafting their catchy, absurdly-humourous pop songs. On the way, they have experimented with everything from guitar and accordions, to drum machines and horns to the sound of a full-bore rock and roll rhythm section. They’ve proven to be very good at what they do, and they have enjoyed a rather large portion of popularity. Their new album, I Like Fun, might be the finest realization yet of their sound. Certainly, to my mind, their best work of the new millennium. Here’s a sample: have a listen to “When The Lights Come On” from They Might Be Giants.
Lark Clark: Chronixx, “Spanish Town Rocking”
Chronixx is proving true to his promise of bringing the next generation to roots reggae. This tune is a little reflective autobiography and lets us know a bit more about where he’s coming from — literally.
*This song is not on Spotify. Listen to it here.
Kodi Hutchinson: Chelsea McBride’s Socialist Night School, “Spirits”
A cool song with a cool groove featuring vocalist Jackson Welchner, with one of Canada’s up and coming jazz big bands under the direction of saxophonist Chelsea McBride. They’re performing live June 16 in Calgary at the NMC, June 18 at Artsplace in Canmore and June 19th at the Medicine Hat Jazz Festival.
Hayley Muir: Beatrice Deer, “Atungak”
From her latest record, My All To You, Inuit musician Beatrice Deer grapples with self-reconciliation and owning up. Singing throughout the album in English, French and Inuktitut, “Atungak” is a warm, driving, pop-influenced track about a man who doesn’t age and travels the world with his wife, only to return and find his children have grown old. A stellar piece of Canadian music.
Grant Stovel: Shaela Miller, “Cheatin’ & Lyin'”
Shaela’s a real gem and her long-awaited new record is a thing of beauty. This Lethbridge artist has a gorgeous voice for hurtin’ country and gets support on this album from a bunch of super-talented collaborators. She’s got a bunch of Albertan album release dates coming up this summer, culminating in a big show at the South Country Fair. Go check her out! She’s fantastic live.
David Ward: Carl Kress, “Peg Leg Shuffle”
Some exquisite solo jazz guitar from the late 1930s. A skillfully-executed piece with two contrasting sections by an overlooked and forgotten six-string pioneer.
Dianne Donovan: Bill Withers, “Ain’t No Sunshine”
Quite simply, this is one of the most soulful voices imaginable. This particular song, weighing in at just two minutes, used that voice the best. Can you believe it was first released as the B-side on a 45? I was a little kid when it came out and it stopped me in my bicycle tracks. I would wait by the radio until I’d hear it. I’d always try to count the “I Know’s” right near the end — was it 24 or 28? You give it a try!
Amy van Keeken: Willie Dunn, “I Pity the Country”
Of Mi’kmaq and Scottish-Irish background, Willie Dunn was a creative force as a film director, singer-songwriter, politician and activist. He wrote many important and moving songs, often pairing them with short films, such as “The Ballad of Crowfoot” which was released in 1968. You can watch it here: https://www.nfb.ca/film/ballad_of_crowfoot/ “I Pity the Country” is one of his most well-known tunes. It is an important anthem and meditation.
Baba: Neko Case, “Hell-On”
The lead-off and title track from Neko Case is autobiographical in nature. Neko’s house in Vermont had burned down recently, hence lyrics like:
“God is an unspecified tide
You cannot time it’s tables
It sets no glass or gables
A lusty tire fire.” Relatable.
Terry David Mulligan: Bob Dylan, “Make You Feel My Love”
No Bob showcase here. No Rolling Stone. What his ballad is, remarkably, is a pure, simple love song. Yes, there are dark corners with almost everything he releases. Warming the depth of the song are producer, Daniel Lanois, the ageless Augie Meyers and Duke Robillard. If “Make you Feel my Love” has a message it may be — as a father to a son and/or daughter. Happy Fathers Day, Bob.
Tony King: Laurel Halo, “Moontalk”
This American-born, Berlin-based musician has cleverly thrown up a smoke screen for all of those who have attempted to define and build interpretations of her music’s meaning. Consciously eluding classification either by genre, gender, or otherwise, Laurel Halo’s charm comes from her refusal to hold still long enough to be pigeon-holed.
While her club-focused EPs are largely influenced by elements of techno, house and dance music, her full-length outings are like a bouquet for the ears wherein she mixes jazz and funk, dappled with bits of head-spinning, synthesized sounds. Put on your headphones and be prepared to be transported!