The legendary country singer Merle Haggard, whose songs about drinking, failed romances and outlaw life earned him a place in the musical pantheon, has passed away at the age of 79. Check out his some of his catalog at Hoopla.com or the KPL collection. Recommended for beginners would be: I'm a Lonesome Fugitive/Branded Man and Strangers and Mama Tried.
Three musical legends are getting the Hollywood biopic treatment. Portraits of trumpeters Miles Davis and Chet Baker and legendary country troubadour Hank Williams will be the subject of upcoming movies slated for later this year (Miles Ahead, Born to be Blue and I Saw the Light). Catch up on their musical catalogs via compact discs, Freegal or Hoopla.
Here are some of the prominent albums and performers from 2015 that have been nominated for a Grammy Award:
Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly
The Weekend's Beauty Behind the Madness
Alabama Shakes' Sound & Color
Little Big Town's Pain Killer
Tame Impala's Currents
Chris Stapleton's The Traveller
Taylor Swift's 1989
Barry Manilow's My Dream Duets
Lately, I’ve been enjoying So Familiar, this great collaborative effort—their second, after Love Has Come For You (2013)—from Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. Talk about easy-listening! Brickell’s smooth voice accompanied by instrumental arrangements featuring Martin on banjo, produces a sound that is both relaxing and upbeat.
One of my favorites is the tender “I Have You,” where Martin trades in his banjo for some vocals. Too sweet.
Freegal is your access to free downloaded music from the Sony Music catalog. A streaming option has now been added to their catalog. Download 5 of your favorite songs each week or listen to a full album by streaming (5 hours/week). Visit our Download page on the KPL site for more information and helpful links to our other digital services.
One of the most buzzed about jazz albums of the year is Miles Davis at Newport: 1955-1975, the Bootleg Series Volume 4. Our compact disc copy will be here soon but if you don't want to wait, stream this extraordinary portrait of one of jazz's most important innovators which includes performances with legendary collaborators John Coltrane, Paul Chambers, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk and Julien "Cannonball" Adderley.
I’ve never really gravitated toward the wispy folk pop of musician Sufjan Stevens. His previous ‘concept’ albums seemed a bit too precious, a little too cloying. But his newest album, Carrie & Lowell is a powerful work of melancholy that proves you can link creative expression with grief and not have it come off as an exercise in showy, self-absorption. Stevens has always made albums that are arranged around a particular narrative theme and his newest is no different. This time around, it’s personal, very personal and that's why it's the rawest, best work of his career. This is a heartfelt tribute to his mother who recently passed away from cancer. Beautiful, touching, lyrical, poignant are all words that will be used to describe this album that explores Stevens’ sometimes troubled relationship with his mother who suffered from mental illness. One of the best of 2015.
Honestly, I’m a bit exhausted with the saturated landscape of sensitive singer songwriters who wear their earnest blues and sorrows on their cowboy shirt sleeve. Most are decent if not completely unspectacular at crafting sometimes catchy tunes but whom nevertheless fail to breathe any kind of new life into the tired folk singer formula. But then comes along an album like Tallest Man on Earth’s Dark Bird Is Home and I’m humming along to a first world angst channeled by an earthy sneer that probably originated somewhere in the Delta about 80 years ago but now is sung by this Swedish lad and pretty much every other bourgeois troubadour obsessed with Bob Dylan. There’s nothing new here, nothing of a particularly terrible nature either. That’s both a problem and not really one at all I suppose.
Wilco may not be releasing anything new this year but if you’re a fan or are interested in learning more about one of the best studio and live acts on the planet, you may want to get your ears on two recent additions to the KPL music collection. Having been around for some twenty years now, the obligatory greatest hits album features a very thorough and thoughtful list of some of their best tunes. Most fans will own these selections but the group should be praised for nailing down most of their strongest tracks. Also recently added, a new album of rarities titled Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014. This collection like the greatest hit album, could have been alternately called Wilco: the brilliant evolutionary growth of a great band. Both albums can be streamed at Hoopladigital.com.