Notes, October 2020 Edition

Hey everybody! I’ve been listening to some great tunes this month, and I’d like to share them with you.

Letter To You, Bruce Springsteen. The Boss has always seemed like a “love him or hate him” sort of artist. I’m firmly in the former camp, but as a true New Jersey native it’s almost mandatory. That being said, lots of Springsteen’s stuff isn’t that great – a lot of his work was over-produced and mediocre, but when he’s at his best he’s absolutely amazing. The album Nebraska is long-considered his best work (and I don’t disagree with that assessment), but listen to me. Listen to me. Letter To You is better. This is incredible stuff. No skips, every song is incredible, The Boss at his best. If you have ever once in your life driven down a lonely road at night and not known what was waiting for you around the next curve of your life, this album will find that moment and pull it out and turn it into something somber and hopeful and painful and joyous and just help you get around that next curve. I know it sounds like I’m overselling it, but I promise I’m not.

Girl Next Door, Saving Jane. Saving Jane is a mid-2000s one-hit-wonder who sounded a little like Smashing Pumpkins except with LeAnn Rimes singing instead of Billy Corgan. While Marti Dodson (the lead singer) has had a pretty prolific songwriting career outside of Saving Jane, the band only really had one hit, the eponymous track off this debut album. But like a shocking number of one-hit-wonders from the 90s and aughts, their “hit” is actually one of their worst tracks. This is in fact a superb album; the songs are really put together well and they’re played with talent. If you’re looking for something a little between pop punk and country, this is it, and it does that weird niche very well.

Cuttin’ Grass, Sturgill Simpson. Speaking of country! I’ve been on a kick lately to try to increase the amount of country music in my rotation. I love old country artists, but I really disliked the whole “stadium country” thing that happened in the past few decades. So I sort of wrote off the genre for a while, but now I’m discovering that some of the really recent stuff is fantastic. This album is a great example. Go listen to “I Don’t Mind” and still try to say “I don’t like country” with a straight face. People who say that are almost always talking about this Toby-Keith-style “bro country” music and not the stuff that’s really hitting home where you don’t hear it.

The Bang Years, Neil Diamond. Man, what a freaking non-stop hit factory this guy was. I’m not going to waste a lot of words talking about one of the greatest and most prolific musicians of the 20th century. But I will say that there’s definitely a whole new generation that’s sleeping on how good songs like “You Got To Me” are, so if you either haven’t listened to this stuff or you just haven’t in a while, do yourself a favor and go ahead.

Boogaloo to the Beastie Boys, Reuben Wilson. Reuben Wilson is a legendary and fantastic jazz organist with a really great sense of humor and fun. This album is entirely jazz organ covers of Beastie Boys hits. If I have to say a single additional word to make you go listen to this album, then you’re a lost cause.

Enjoy the music in your lives, everyone. If you have a moment, share it with someone else.

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