So the other day April and I were sitting around world Why It Matters headquarters, lighting expensive cigars with hundred dollar bills we pulled from our giant Scrooge McDuck pile of WIM money, and I said to April:
“I think you’ve been going a little easy on the fish lately.”
“What do you mean?” April asked, and she propped up her feet on a nearby midget.
“The fish. You know, the readers. If you want to hook big fish you need to really bring the bait.”
“Wait a minute,” April said. “You don’t think I’ve got the goods?”
“All I’m saying is December is a big month. A lot going on with the Christmas and the what not. People need an awesome play list.”
April put her cigar out on her tongue and crushed it in her steely grip. “I will break you, old man!” she screamed. “This will be the best ‘April’s Picks’ ever!”
After that we made a one dollar bet that we could somehow make Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd trade places. I’m still not sure what that was all about. Anyway, here’s April:
“Snakeskin,” Deerhunter (Fading Frontier). “I was born already nailed to the cross.” The hypnotic swagger paired with a jangly guitar draws the listener into a rather dark piece of music. While the inspiration for the track is unclear, it is hauntingly compelling.
“Let It Live,” Fuzz (Fuzz II). The thick as molasses bass line acclimates the ear to the raw, unadulterated rock that is to follow. It impossible to critique this band without drawing comparisons to early Sabbath. Be that as it may, the song oozes tight instrumentation and the gifts of superior production not available in the early Seventies.
“Benzin,” Boogarins (MANUAL). This light hearted track is beachy with slight American country and psychedelic influences. Strange bedfellows for sure, but it works here.
“Light Up The Dark,” Gabrielle Aplin (Light Up The Dark). “I’m drawing perfect circles ‘round the life that we could share. And what is ours, is ours to keep.” Sinewy and sensual, this sweet little shuffle is grounded by Ms. Aplin’s confident delivery. An assertive keyboard part paired with the soulful plea of the six string lends a beautiful texture.
“Say Hello Sometime,” Bronze Radio Return (Light Me Up). “And as a matter of fact there’s a time and a place we can both trace back to.” Chris Henderson’s vocals anchor this lo-fi delight. A strong chorus and a plodding groove will get your foot tapping and the story it tells will remind you of someone.
“Cry Baby,” The Neighborhood (Wiped Out!). “I hope you won’t ever lie to me. And if you do, I know I won’t be a cry baby.” A sense of urgency colors this sundrenched ode to staying strong for perhaps, the wrong reasons. The upbeat tempo masks the painful longing evident in the lyrics.
“The Dreamthieves,” The Sword (High Country). Wielding a classic, Seventies rock feel, The Sword are players. Building on a psychedelic hue, the ethereal backing vocals places you back in time.
“Night Court,” Chic Gamine (Light A Match). “I wonder how the stars beat; I need to touch that heat.” There is no denying the sexy saunter of this tune. It is the visceral self-realization of the lyrics that tether the track to a heady space. The lead vocals are shared amongst three ladies and they can nail harmonization.
“3 Shots,” Hollis Brown (3 Shots). “Oh, if nobody cares I guess we’re all gonna hear the same story.” Steeped in Americana, Hollis Brown (band name, not a person) offers up a poignant reflection on gun control. While the politics of the song are front and center they do not take away from a pleasurable listen.
“Promise Everything,” Basement (Promise Everything). “I won’t ask for love. I know it’s there, just covered up.” This cut delivers a hard charging guitar riff from the start and continues to blister throughout. A savory send up to Nineties nostalgia.