Little Rêd – Hell.
In 2017 Welsh songstress Ellie James aka Little Rêd released her debut single Hell. I came across it interestingly ONLY this week courtesy of her record label Seahorse Music, which is incidentally run by another amazing Welsh talent called Sarah Howell. If you’re fan of this site you may know Sarah Howell better as Bryde, whom I interviewed earlier this year. Anyway, Little Rêd’s Hell is a dazzling debut drenched with sweeping soundscape of guitars and synths. It’s pretty much what I would call left-of-centre dreamy electro-pop, glued together by pop-folk inspired vocals. I read that Little Rêd’s has drawn comparisons to The Japanese House but I would add that she sounds eerily similar to Blackheart Orchestra. Her follow-up single What Love Is is also quite catchy and tender, arguably a sign of the unflinching direction she wants to head musically. But for now I’m happy to enjoy Hell described as “an anthem for love-worn relationships.”
Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over.
Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over is one of those songs that if you don’t seriously well-up every time you hear it song, you’re simply not human! The best version of this song, besides the studio album version on their self titled album Crowded House (1986), was recorded in their farewell tour that they played for the last time at the Sydney Opera House. I don’t think there was a dry eye in Sydney way back in November of 1996. More recently a few years ago they played it on the eve of their Aria Hall of Fame induction in 2016 (without the late Paul Hestor) on a webcast to the faithful. It is truly one of Neil Finn’s greatest penned songs.
Pearl Jam – Present Tense.
Back in 1996, Pearl Jam released their fourth studio album called No Code. It was an album that seemingly put off many of my friends. Personally, I loved it, and rate it highly as one of PJ’s best ever albums, as do most hardcore fans. Interestingly, many of my friends would come back to it years later with renewed enthusiasm!
At the time of its release, it was an album that moved as far away as possible from PJ’s album Ten with its moody experimentation. Like the Beatles, PJ showed that it was willing to grow and mature and try different musical arrangements. That said, the best song on the album, apart from standouts like Off He Goes, In My Tree and Red Mosquito, in my opinion is Present Tense. It is a wonderful song both lyrically (a lesson about living in the moment) and sonically with a standout performance from Mike McCready on lead guitar. But the unsung hero on this track I believe is arguably Jeff Ament on bass. On the studio version, I just love the climax of the song where Ament’s bass and Iron’s drums drive the rhythm section of the song and then suddenly almost disappear as the song subsides into its atmospheric conclusion. Anyway, more on No Code and Present Tense for another day but I’d like to leave you with a live performances of Present Tense that is always really fun to watch, especially when you find McCready and Vedder habitually in the zone. Enjoy!