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The Music of 2018: Quarter 3

(missed an installment? skip back)

a.k.a. ALL OF THE MUSIC. EVERY MUSIC, as my boyfriend might say. I had 4 new CDs within 2 weeks of July starting, and it just kept pouring in, and the CDs are so good that I am throwing my “only the top half” representation rule right out the window wherever it suits me, mostly because this post has been such a gigantic quagmire/nightmare all month that I keep running away from it and/or driving myself crazy with renumbering in almost equal measure.

July

41. Reba McEntire – If I Were A Boy
I'd kick it with who I wanted
And never get confronted for it


LISTEN, I have absolutely no idea how a middle-aged country star managed to make the lyrics of this song work for her, but damned if her voice isn't so amazing that this is now my favorite version of all.

42. Oren Lavie - Her Morning Elegance
And she fights for her life as she goes in a store
With a thought she has caught by a thread
She pays for the bread and she goes
Nobody knows


This turned up in the sidebar of “Wild Card,” so I thought it was going to be sung by a woman. It is not, but it is a story ABOUT a woman, so that works. The singer's voice is kind of mumbly and almost overshadowed by the bass line, which is a shame, because the lyrics are incredible and can be interpreted all kinds of ways, as sad or as hopeful as you like. I'm on the hunt for cover versions that will more clearly bring them out, but in the meantime, the music video for this is super creative.

43. Billy Burke - The Underkill
There was a time when there was only 2 of us in the trenches
Waiting for somebody to put their pistol down


Still working on loving the new album as a whole (still free to download BTW) -- there is too much else distracting me! -- but this one definitely stood out first as the catchiest music.

44. Billy Burke – Always Trouble
And this one followed, mostly because his dorky dad home-produced (or at least it looks that way) video featuring his adorable 9 y/o daughter was an absolute Must Watch, and after 3 views it got stuck in my head.

[CD Rec: Idina Menzel - I Stand]
I attempted to listen to a more recent album of hers once, and it just didn't click. But when I saw this super cheap at Half Price Books, I took a chance on it, and immediately loved the opening track...and every single one after, making choosing a top half impossible, and I already feel bad about the slower numbers I excluded. It's only 10 tracks long, but this is just exactly the kind of music I love and do not even know how to describe, except to say: LEA MICHELE, LEARN FROM YOUR FICTIONAL MOTHER AND RECORD SOMETHING LIKE THIS.

45. I Stand
I don't try and change the world
But what will you make of me?


Right out the gate, I am immediately at a loss for words because I love the music immeasurably, as well as all the lyrics, and I can neither choose a favorite representation nor explain why I love it. Just know that this is still probably my secret favorite on the album. If it wasn't the first single, WHY NOT.

46. Better To Have Loved
I bared my soul and I dared to go
Knowing one day you might let me down


The music is fantastic from the opening echoes, as is the fact that someone basically made a song version of a common saying. I also find it a useful thing to lean on whilst I am still irrationally sad about her divorce.

47. Gorgeous
When all of the beauty turns to pain
When all of the madness falls like rain
As long as we crash and we collide
We will be gorgeous, you and I


Literally why...am I so bad...at explaining why I like these songs?? I just like this one a lot! I feel like it's a great anthem to both self-confidence and epic love.

48. Don't Let Me Down
Don't let me down
Don't let them see
These shadows fallen over me


It easily predates Frozen...but god, when she sings "don't let them see," that could be laid with tracing paper over the same lyric in "Let It Go."

49. I Feel Everything
Like a prima ballerina
I will tiptoe tiptoe around you constantly


As near as I can tell, this is about a toxic relationship that the singer nevertheless can't bring herself to leave. Why is it still so pretty??

50. My Own Worst Enemy
My mother's always trying to tell me
How to be grateful, how to believe
My father's always trying to say
Baby, you're beautiful in every way


My other favorite on the CD. It's just so intense and energetic

51. Perfume and Promises
Stay for another morning
Study the curves on my face
Stay even when we're unknowing
Stay 'till they tear you away


This is the only one that one might mistake for a Broadway number, where her voice really swells and hits the rafters at times. I wasn't sure I liked it at first, not least because it's a slower number. But now it reminds me of some of the things I like about songs from the Marilyn musical on “Smash,” or Wicked itself, particularly when it gets to the bridge above.

52. CD Rec: Lights, “Skin & Earth
A deaf-pick library CD that worked out SPECTACULARLY. I did not even realize it was a concept album until I looked it up -- and I still haven't gotten around to the music videos or comics -- it just works incredibly well as somewhere between a semi-synth pop and a rock album, but with the singer/songwriter vibe evident throughout in its interesting lyrics.

The concept, it turns out, is a post-apocalyptic landscape, and okay, yeah, now I can definitely hear it. I like it so much that I refuse to pick favorites, and I am just gonna run down the whole thing as one number, behind a spoiler cut, because that is the only way I ever listen to it, and I have listened to it about 50 times now.
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[52A-N, or 14 total]-
Intro: 34 seconds of vocals that come together and crescendo until they provide a seamless transition into the first “real” track. The best part is that it can be separated from the next track without making the latter feel incomplete – it just works as a wonderful frosting on top when you play it straight through. It also works on its own, tbh.
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Skydiving: A fast-paced and catchy way to kick off the music with lyrics. Can't stop singing you caught me / sky-y-yy-yyy-yiii-y diving... Or my other favorite, “get a little unruly / no guts, no glory”
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Until the Light: One of my favorite songs, mostly based on how catchy the music is.
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Savage: Boss attitude, kind of reminds me of an Elle King song, but less crass. (What do you do when a man don't love you? / He takes the sun from the sky above you)
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New Fears: A slowed-down track, kind of slinky, with a Western guitar twang at the beginning.
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Morphine: Lullaby-like at first, then very crystalline, high-pitched and breathy.
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We Were Here: Radio-friendly, with some AutoTune voice effects and other studio effects. The total effect reminds me very much of a Halsey song.
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Kicks: Even more radio friendly, sounding very modern. (It's how we get our kicks / machete and the sticks / lost in the thick of it with you)
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Giants: The slowest chorus in the radio-friendly trio, apparently released as the first single. Not my favorite, but some fun lyrics.
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Moonshine: Another song with slinky music, definitely an after-dark anthem. (moon! shine! This is my time!)
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Interlude: Sixty-six seconds that sound rather like a religious chant.
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Magnetic Field:
Much like Morphine, though lower in pitch.
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Fight Club: Bouncy and snappy, sounds like a happy dance song. (dance-fight club??)
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Almost Had Me: A great closer, where I particularly love the lyric "you were the knife in a gun fight."

=================================
[CD Rec: Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust]
A compilation of literal Disney songs “about or inspired by fairies,” which actually just translates to “happy and innocent pop music,” as delivered by the absolutely perfect selection of ten young female singer-actresses. So you know what? I give up. All ten are getting featured. I CANNOT choose a top half, and excluding the one or two I know are in the bottom just seems mean when all are by different singers and on any other CD they would probably all be good enough to be highlights. First track links to CD playlist.

53. The McClaine Sisters – The Great Divide
Tell me every tiny thing about you
Anything you say, I'll never doubt you


This one is probably my least favorite, just because nothing about it especially stands out, but the fact that it was still immediately upbeat and happy enough to get me to play the whole CD instead of just the track I came for is worth mentioning.

54. Thia Megia - We'll Be There
We'll be there on the crisp autumn days
With the leaves all ablaze and the cool breeze blowing


This is the only one that includes a featured dude rapper, for some reason – but it's kid rap, you know, so it's innocent and also kind of the most exciting part of this song.

55. Zendaya - Dig Down Deeper
You can keep things as they've always been
And you'll never leave the row you've been planting in


AWESOME attitude, the first one on the CD where I'm always like, YEAH! (The drumline background definitely gives it that energy.)

56. Demi Lovato - The Gift of a Friend
Sometimes you think you'll be fine by yourself
'Cause a dream is a wish that you make all alone
It's easy to feel like you don't need help
But it's harder to walk on your own


It feels cheesy, but the verses are really lovely, lyrically speaking. And the music is lovely too.

57. Selena Gomez - Fly To Your Heart
Touch every rainbow painting the sky
Look at the magic glide through your life


This one just makes me want to sway to the very defined waltzing tempo. A very Disney-typical song, with somewhat bland lyrics, but like I said, I can't bring myself to kick anything off this list. Not least because I wish Selena would be this innocent all the time, instead of always creeping me out with her Too Adult music because she still looks 12.

58. Bridgit Mendler - How to Believe
Spring and summer, love and laughter
We'll live happy ever after


This one is just pretty typical cute pop fare. Much like her own CD!

59. Katharine McPhee - Let Your Heart Sing
It starts with a whisper, a sound on the breeze
Dancing on moonbeams and shaking the trees


I checked the CD out for this one only, and my first thought was disappointment that it was too slow, but once I'd heard all the others and came back to this one I was immediately floored by its shimmering resplendence. Beautiful ballad. Beautiful.

60. Laura Marano - Shine
You’re a firefly, you’re the sunlight,
You’re a shooting star breaking through the night
You’re a rocket in the darkness
And you sparkle like a diamond sky


So happy and upbeat! It's like Katy Perry's “Firework,” but, you know, minus the grossness associated with Katy Perry even when she releases innocent songs. Also, I adore Laura Marano (a.k.a. Jack Malone's kid, a.k.a. Luke Danes' surprise out-of-the-woodwork kid) always.

61. Sabrina Carpenter - Smile
It's all up to you, so don't be stupid
It's always worse in your head


My absolute favorite on the CD, if only because it's like the lyrics are personally tailor made to encourage me when I'm sitting here suffering for hours on work at the computer because I'm too afraid of how hard it is to start but even more afraid to go to bed and lose work time without starting. (bonus encouragement that I think about every morning: and if you didn't smile yesterday / here's your chance / here's your moment)

62. Tiffany Thornton - Magic Mirror
There's magic if you close your eyes
And all you have to do is believe the impossible


And another fast, bright & fun one to close us out! The chorus just has so much TRILL to it. I would fully have expected to hear it at the end of the movie “Enchanted.”

63. Karliene – Lament for Boromir
I saw him ride over seven streams, over waters wide and grey
I saw him walk in empty lands until he passed away


Oh, good god. If you love Lord of the Rings and/or largely a capella Celtic-sounding folk ballads accompanied only by a violin and occasional backing vocals, THIS IS YOUR NEW FAVORITE. This woman is amazing; I highly recommend looking up all her stuff. Straight up, this is on par with Loreena McKennitt setting epic poems to song.

AUGUST
64. Pitch Perfect 3: The Riff-Off
I talked about it here. Extensively. (scroll up from the bottom to avoid movie spoilers) Short version, I love every second to the moon and back.

65. Pitch Perfect 3: Cheap Thrills
Because I really cannot bring myself to hear the soundtrack in full, with its slew of terrible songs and weird random Christmas covers for some reason?? and anyway, this is the only other one I've really enjoyed at all. Even with Rebel Wilson's weird-ass attempt at a heavy Jamaican accent at one point. This IS a catchy song.

66. Katharine McPhee – Heart Goes Dumb
It's like your favorite song that you play all day
It's like the wind that blows all the clouds away


BLESS MY QUEEN FOR RANDOMLY RELEASING AN EXTRA SONG FROM “HYSTERIA” whilst I am still flush from the thrill of discovering said album and continuing to play it constantly! It fits in with the rest of them seamlessly. I loved it instantly, carried away by the sound. Still dunno most of the words.

67. Glee Cast (Darren Criss/Kevin McHale) - Boys/Boyfriend
If I was your boyfriend
(Sometimes a girl just needs one)


Randomly decided to listen to this one, and...I really think it was just my anti-Britney Spears bias that stopped me from hearing this in 2013. What a slinky, sexy gift. And possibly one of the best graftings of two songs into each other this show has ever done.

[CD Rec: Matt Wertz, "Somedays"]
Based on the garage sale where I bought this, I 100% thought this was a Christian album (one of the hip youth-pastor-esque ones), and to be honest I cannot find hard evidence to confirm or deny this hypothesis, but even if it isn't explicitly one, that theme is definitely, if subtly, woven into a lot of them.

But really, I bought it because I eyeballed the cover and track listings, figured I was looking at a young male singer-songwriter with a focus on (acoustic?) guitar, and damned if I did not get exactly that and strike gold. It's wonderful easy listening. I've played this at least 20 times; the only place I feel it's weak is the two 5-minute slow numbers back to back, which I have never made it all the way through without getting bored and skipping to the next track during one or both. Think I can stick to a top half this time, though.

68. Somedays
It's already getting better
You will never leave me


Seriously, these lyrics definitely said “Christian song” to me. Anyway, this is the opening track, and I knew within about six seconds that this CD had been worth the dollar spent on it.

69. Faith and Compromise
You called me without warning
One Wednesday early morning
Now Wednesdays will never be the same again


IDK IT'S JUST CATCHY.

70. Yesterday Morning
Yesterday morning every part of her just shut down
Getting out of bed never felt so difficult before


A SONG THAT TELLS A STORY ABOUT A NAMED GIRL, I'M HERE FOR IT. (esp. w/ lyrics like the above, which is how I feel about work some days)

71. External Fix-It
These weeds keep poppin' up
I thought I'd killed them all last week
...
But sure enough they're still there
Just as sure as they'd been before
Strangling all the flowers
I'd created this garden for


One of my favorites on the CD because this is just such a chill, casual, laid-back summer vibe of a song. (P.S. the weeds are metaphors for sin) (so cas. and summery!!)

72. Sell Out
Wouldn't it be cool if it was our job to write music for a living?
You could come over every afternoon
We could record some songs, and have Eric sing along
Only stopping for dinner, dinner at Maryann's


A very short song, 2:21, but I just smile every time it starts at the imagery in the above verse.

73. Song For the Irrational
Do you realize how far you stray from truth
In your quest for your rational proof?


Is this...an atheist smackdown disguised in a pleasant song? Maybe, maybe not, but that is how I heard it once I realized there were lyrics beyond the title line.

74. Happytimes
I missed Wyoming and the cornerstone
But now I'm here and it's so good to be home
It seems like I've been gone forever
I'm so glad that we're back together


Songs that mention Wyoming are neat?

75. This Moment
Too often I've overlooked
These moments with you by my side
When absence leads to loss
It's me who's left the light


The last song and the only slow one I love, mostly because the sound reminds me SO MUCH of the last song on Lifehouse's “No Name Face” (Everything).
==============
September
"Oh good, no CDs*, time to calm dow HAHA JUST KIDDING TV SOUNDTRACK TIME."
*this will be proven a lie by month's end

(in literally no chronological order, show-wise, just the order in which I found them)

76. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (ft. Rachel Bloom/Vincent Rodriguez III) – We'll Never Have Problems Again
Do you remember back when we had problems?
Oh, man, that was annoying!


Technically this is from last year, but I didn't include it because I didn't LOVE it. But now I do! In all its disco glory! Especially this part. (because performance-wise...JOSH'S FACE. And later, when he underscores the heart pattern on his chest! And when Heather Soul-Trains out of there, loooosers!)

77. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (ft. Rachel Bloom) -- Scary Scary Sexy Lady
Scary like a witch, but
Sexy like a sexy witch


The visuals really make this stand out – you HAVE to watch the clip for the full effect – but the dark music is cool too, given its lyrics (until the last and worst one). My other favorite: wearing high heels / and a short skirt made of MURRRR-DER.

78. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Cast - Who's The New Guy? (and, of course, its reprise)
Is this someone new we're going to have to grow to care about?
Why should we root for someone male, straight and white?


Hahahaha, I very much like this sneaky tip-toeing theatrical usage of 4th-wall-almost-breaking statements. (“is this some sort of desperate move to help our ratings?” /“You mean our terrible ratings on legalscores.com?” / “Yeah”) I am also given to understand that this show did a spectacular job of being tone-deaf about the very tropes it was poking fun at by leaving its fans asking...all of these same questions. That either makes it better or worse. But nothing can take away from how crazy catchy this melody is.

79. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (ft. Rachel Bloom) – You Do/Don't Want To Be Crazy
Don't mess with a bitch who's crazy in the head

BEST THEME SONG YET. AMAZING. I don't care if it is only about 30 seconds long, it is getting its own number.

80. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (ft. Rachel Bloom) – Rebecca's Reprise
Now that I'm a bride, he'll look at me with pride
'Cause my daddy will love me, and then, in a wonderful way
Everything in the past will just fall away


I tripped over this while I was high on the above and searching earnestly for every scrap of new music from this show that wasn't explicit and/or gross, and OH GOSH this part socked me. There are a ton of great reprises worked into two minutes, but the reworking of “I Love My Daughter” leading to her earnest hope (which will ultimately all be in vain) was the saddest thing until “A Diagnosis.”

81. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Let's Generalize About Men
Let's not distinguish between them at all
Let's just drink a lot more alcohol
And then high-five each other
As we make a bunch of blanket statements!


I wasn't sure about this one for a while, but tbh, IDK why I ever thought I cuold resist boppy 80s synth-pop. The music, lyrics and video are all equally amaze. Plus...you gotta love a song that just OWNS what it is doing (there are no exceptions / all 3 billion men are like this). Every line is funnier than the last.

82. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Without Love
Love's a real time suck
It really gets your mind stuck
On things that later on, you'll be like, "Why?"


Now bring it back to the chill hippie era – without love, you can save the world!

83. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Where's Rebecca Bunch?
There's gossip going on from Riverside to Encino (Encino!)
Of the Jewish chick who got dumped by the ripped Fillipino (Fillipino!)


What's not to love about the whole cast putting on some fake British accents and old-timey costumes for a super catchy ensemble number?? Granted, it took me a while to warm up to the dark, sad Rebecca solo in the middle, but now it's adding to the awesome theatricality of it all/rapidly becoming my favorite part ("my reason for living has abandoned me" ALL THE SAD). Also, this song might FINALLY be the key to making me stop writing Rebecca when I mean Rachel, and vice versa.

84. Crazy-Ex Girlfriend (Isabelle Pera) - The Moment Is Me (Earnest Version)
'Cause today's tomorrow's yesterday
Can't let the future slip away


LISTEN Y'ALL! I have spent the past several months wishing there was this version of the song that Heather's deadpan complaining didn't ruin (I understand why she does from a character perspective, but it's so FRUSTRATING to hear her flat notes and groans mucking up my Very Nice Cheesy Inspiration Porn Song).

But now! This demo version is available on Spotify and iTunes both. Now I have it good, and the only way it could be better is if I could either a) get Melissa Benoist to record this in true Marley Rose fashion, or b) get Vanessa Carlton to record a slowed-down and SUPER serious cover where she has you convinced that the metaphors are actually deep and profound.

LIST EXTRA: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, "The End of the Movie," demo version, also avail. on Spotify/iTunes.
As much as I am wedded to the proper Josh Groban version, OBVIOUSLY, you can actually buy/stream this one, and it's kind of fun to listen to this knowing you can upgrade at any time to the episode version (plus, this one doesn't have the spoken part interrupting it).

85. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Cast (David Hull / Scott Michael Foster / Vincent Rodriguez III) -- Fit Hot Guys Have Problems Too
Don't look at us, we're not dancing for you!
This is our quiet personal time to reflect


Here's your literal club track! I debated whether or not I liked this, because it's definitely got hilarious lyrics and the performance is pretty funny, if mildly NSFW (with the stripping and all). But I definitely feel awkward about them breaking down into their ugly cry in their underwear at the end, which, how can I put this...makes me feel like I am watching a human trafficking auction? Yeah. So, recommended with the caveat that it's a better song than it is show clip.

86. Glee Cast – I Lived
Hope if everybody runs, you choose to stay

I haven't finished watching the show, but I went crazy a few weeks back and spoiled myself on a bunch of things I badly wanted to see in season 6, and one thing I decided to let myself see was this. It is beautiful and perfect and I cry every single time I listen to this as one important voice after another comes in, but – the final song of Glee could not have been better (unless of course they had gotten Melissa Benoist back #bitterforever). I am proud.

[CD Rec: Emily Osment, “All The Right Wrongs”]
Tripped over this at a thrift store, what a charming and delightful little 20-minute, 6-track EP for Haley Joel's little sis, debuting her music at age 17! Pop-rock sound that would fit right in with early Hillary Duff, which I suppose is befitting of a Disney Channel star.

87. Emily Osment – Average Girl
I gave you my heart in a sweet love letter
But you gave it right back, said “I like her better”


SUPER CATCHY CHORUS. I especially like the calling out of a girl with “Angelina lips / double zero jeans.”

88. Emily Osment – I Hate The Homecoming Queen
And I'm pretty damn sure she she can't stand me
She thinks she's on the cover of a magazine


SUPER CATCHY, despite its continuing female in-fighting basis! (I swear the whole CD is not like this)

89. CD Rec: Megan Hilty, “It Happens All The Time”]
Where Katharine McPhee goes, Megan Hilty is sure to follow. Nah, j/k, but I do love that I tripped over this album of fantastic cover songs (specifically, songs that meant a great deal to her at some point in her life) at the above thrift store. Someone on Amazon criticized it for being “easy listening” and devoid of her powerhouse vocals, to which I was like SHUT UP, THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANT?? And I got exactly what the disappointed reviewer promised.

She is spectacular on Hunger Games soundtrack offering “Safe and Sound,” which I didn't think could be made better, but her voice is so good that she can even revitalize such tired and overexposed dude songs as “The Heart of the Matter” and “Dare You To Move.” None of them stand out as super-amazing singles, but I am pleased with all of them, hence: all under one number.

[CD Rec: Lindsay Lohan, “Speak”]
You guessed it, I hit the trifecta of cheap thrift store CDs. I have always adored “Rumors” (which should REALLY have been the kickoff track, not a “bonus” at the end), but I never got around to listening to the rest, and damned if it is not a set of very enjoyable standard pop music. It didn't immediately win my heart, but I've run it 3 or 4 times and tracks have started to filter through my consciousness. Gonna limit it to one standout for now, though.

90. Lindsay Lohan – Very Last Moment In Time
Time stops for no one, it moves on unaware

The first one to bend my ear, ironically the last on the album (before Rumors, and it REALLY should have been the last, period) is a very pleasant and laid-back number, kind of inexplicably sad-tinged even though it's really just about enjoying every minute you've got.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
loveisastate
Oct. 2nd, 2018 04:02 pm (UTC)
I have been waiting and waiting for an RS Music post with artists/songs on it that I have heard of/listened to and I KNEW if I waited long enough one would come along .....

OMG I LOVE that Idina Menzel 'I Stand' album. And the 'I Stand' song itself is one of my favourite all time songs full stop. I was OBSESSED with it when it was first released. - Just checked my Last.FM stats - it's still my 8th most played song ever (and by ever I mean since I started a Last.FM account so around 2006).

I have a few Matt Wertz albums but not that one.
loveisastate
Oct. 2nd, 2018 04:09 pm (UTC)
Also, is this the post for recs because I want to rec this song to you as I feel there are elements you may like. There is a guitar solo towards the end and I know you're not a fan but I am hoping other beautiful parts of it negates this. :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEW4wB7tCsY
rainbowstevie
Oct. 3rd, 2018 10:22 pm (UTC)
Woohoo! Being on the same page definitely makes these posts more fun. Wikipedia says the UK release got a bunch of bonus tracks -- if so, lucky! And wow, those are very impressive stats for a very deserving song. Not surprised it's a lifelong favorite.

Whenever my current tsunami of music recedes a bit, I am interested in hearing more of Wertz's stuff. Any albums you like in particular?

Finally, this is definitely the post for recs, and since I generally fail at keeping tabs on what Fleetwood Mac members are doing, I really appreciate it. This song has definitely bent my ear and got me playing it on repeat. And the guitar solo ended up being my favorite part!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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