The Fine Tuning Basement Tapes, Vol. 1

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This Playlist consists of songs I have intended to write about for a while but for whatever reason have yet to make it out of my notebook and onto the blog.  So I thought I would package them up into a nice little playlist and discharge my curatorial duties in one fell swoop.  Enjoy!

This Playlist is available on Spotify.

1.  “Dirty Dishes” by Deer Tick.  Hard core Fine Tuning fans know that Deer Tick’s lead singer, John McCauley, is part of the triumvirate that make up Fine Tuning favorite, Middle Brother.  Deer Tick is an excellent band in their own right and this is one of my favorite tracks by them.  It is from their first record, War Elephant, which is a must listen.  It is more spare then some of Deer Tick’s later records, a bit less raucous, and highly introspective.  “Dirty Dishes” never fails to put me in a contemplative space.  And musically, I just love the two cymbal crashes immediately after the guitar solo followed by the cymbal clicks that fill the final verse.

2.  “Language of the Dead” by Delta Spirit.  Sticking with the Middle Brother theme, this next track is by Delta Spirit, whose lead singer, Matt Vasquez, is also in Middle Brother.  This track will pull you out of yourself following “Dirty Dishes.”  It is hard-charging and demands your full attention.  I sometimes hear a hint of Cheap Trick in the keyboards (“Dream Police,” to be precise), but don’t let that put you off.

3.  “Look at Miss Ohio” by Band of Heathens.  This track is my latest obsession.  It is a cover of an outstanding Gillian Welch tune that I also love, but this version by Americana darlings, Band of Heathens, transforms it from more of a bluegrass number to a slow-burning rocker.

4.  “No Way Out of Here” by Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell (of Band of Horses — not to be confused with Band of Heathens).  This is a cover of a song by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour from his first solo album in 1978.  These guys have brought the track into the modern era and, I daresay, improved it considerably.  I don’t say that lightly — Gilmour is one of my musical heroes.

5.  “Take Me With You (When You Go)” by the Jayhawks.  This Minneapolis band was fairly well regarded in the ’80s and ’90s although they didn’t catch my attention then.  But this track is a winner.

6.  “Turn That Finger Around” by Honeyhoney.  I have been meaning to write about Honeyhoney’s 2011 record, “Billy Jack,” for quite some time.  Not sure what got in the way.  It could be that in the deepest recesses of my rock n’ roll soul, there’s a piece of me that thinks the record leans just a little too country.  But, of course, that’s silly.  It is a really good record whatever the “category” and well worth a spin if you are unfamiliar.  This is the standout track to my ear.

7.  “Ain’t No Kid” by the Quaker City Night Hawks.  This band from Fort Worth, Texas, describes themselves as “the whiskey bottle you finished Saturday night and the prayer you said the next morning.”  I’m not sure what that means, but I like it.  As I do this track.

8.  “The Bad Days” by David Ramirez.  When I first heard this song, I thought it was Ryan Adams.  Enough said.

9.  “Mountain Man” by Crash Kings.  These guys are from LA and this is the first single from their 2009 debut record.  Not sure how they create such a full-throated rock tune without any guitars, but there you have it.

10.  “Devil In Me” by Anderson East.  This track is off Anderson East’s new record, Delilah. It’s a little Ray LaMontagne, a little country, a little bluegrass.  But all good.

11. “Strongman” by Langhorne Slim.  I already dropped a note to everyone recommending the new album by Fine Tuning Favorite, Langhorne Slim, and suggesting this as a standout track, but thought I would reiterate the point.

12.  “Into The Light” by Heartless Bastards.  Hard core Fine Tuning fans know that Heartless Bastards is the first band I wrote about on this blog.  They released a new album, Restless Ones, back in June and I haven’t gotten around to saying anything about it.  Well, it is strong.  And this track is the highlight for me.

13.  “Follow” by Richie Havens.  I wrote a brief email about this transcendent track some time ago, but, again, feel a need to reiterate how moving it is.  Put the kids to bed, grab that wine glass, put on the headphones, and let it wash over you.

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