We’re already four days into August, and I’ve failed to post my July music list. Egad! For those of you new to the blog, each month I Shazam everything that really catches my ear, and then I re-listen to the music and write about the best.
The goal is to introduce everybody to at least one new awesome song, band or artist. It’s also to help me remember the songs that comprise my memories, remembering why I loved them at the time.
I’m certain I’ll achieve that this go-round. The theme this month is a lot more female. Not on purpose, but I’m glad it was. When my wife Kristi asked me if there was a theme to my picks for July, I replied that it felt like I had more women on this list. The first among them is already a pretty big star and I think she’s on the verge of elite stardom, Maren Morris.
She reminds me of Kacey Musgraves but with more of an edge. Who remembers “80s Mercedes” from 2016? Damn, this is fantastic:
I remember exactly where I first heard this song. It was in Buckeye, Arizona at our friends’ house on a spring training visit.
Here’s another great one called “My Church,” and imagine Shelby Lynne from 1999 on this one. Shelby’s “I Am Shelby Lynne” is one of the best albums I’ve ever owned, and Maren has perfected that sound, whether purposely or not.
But the tune that made my list for July is the best song I’ve heard from anybody in 2019. “GIRL.” If I could recommend one new artist to check out for anybody over 40 looking for new music, it would be Maren Morris. Dude, hand her all the Grammys. All of them. She’s the first artist since Amy that has made me want to stop and listen to everything she’s ever done.
“GIRL” is from earlier this year, but John Prine’s “Lonesome Friends Of Science” is brand new. Just posted to YouTube, it’s from his new album called “The Tree Of Forgiveness.” Charming and smart, even if it sounds a ton like Jerry Jeff Walker. Easily the best song title of 2019.
Another tune is from the Funky French Playlist, the compilation of songs Kristi and I listened to on our honeymoon. This comes from indie pop duo The Darcys. This has a funky hook and fantastic production.
Karen O of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs teamed up with Danger Mouse for this delightful lite rock vibe. Who else is totally hearing Nicolette Larson here?
This tune called “Bleachers” bleeds the boundaries of pop and country, but we were surprised to learn that Jillian Jacqueline is categorized country. This is smart pop in my book. It’s like the best pop music is coming from Nashville these days.
Speaking of which, laugh off this dude as bro country all you’d like, but Chris Lane’s “I Don’t Know About You” (again) is a fantastic, hooky pop song. My favorite part about watching the video on YouTube is the first comment, “Sounds like he’s trying to unlock her security questions for online banking lol.” Affected as the production might sound, this is a wonderful piece of songwriting. It’s like yacht rock with a country accent.
Speaking of yacht rock, can we all just admit that Art > Paul?
This next one is a song I Shazam’d from the car on my commute to Tulsa. Ronan Keating was part of an Irish group I’d never heard of called “Boyzone.” Love this. Catchy af. Vocally, I’m hearing a ton of Jude Cole from back in the day.
Speaking of back in the day, this is a tune from The Waitresses that we heard on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Of course, this makes me want to hear their famous Christmas song, but I can appreciate how awesome and identifiable their overall sound was. And how kick-ass their bass player is.
Not sure where I first heard South Carolina’s own Chaz Bear, recording under the name Toro Y Moi, but I loved it even more after watching the video. Quirky and catchy.
And I’m not 100 percent certain where I first heard Port Cities, although they’re another Canadian act who could technically be on our Funky Fresh Playlist. This is beautiful. They don’t need anything beyond a guitar and vocals.
And a couple of classics to end my July list. This is a Gram Parsons tune called “Wheels” recorded by Emmylou Harris. The harmony alone sucked me in. The lyrical picture painted kept me locked in.
The last song on this list caught my ear on first listen, but upon subsequent listens, I’m realizing that this is one of the better rock songs of the past 20 years. It’s got a message. It’s powerful. It was written and performed by an immigrant. And it requires the volume cranked.