Everyone says that boomers don't like new music, but they're wrong about that. I'm always looking for new sounds and talented new musicians. Here are five that I really like. Amazing futures await Hozier, Lindi Ortega, The Milk Carton Kids, Eilen Jewell, and Sturgill Simpson.
HOZIER – What is it about Irish rockers? How are they so relentlessly soulful and completely distinctive as they combine different musical styles? My brother-in-law, the meteorologist, says it's "lack of sunshine and a lot of alcohol." He could be right.
Whatever the reason, this twenty-four-year-old heartthrob – Andrew Hozier-Byrne, from Bray in County Wicklow, son of a blues musician – is going to make a lot of great music. And give a lot of girls sweet daydreams.
Here he is, live on "Saturday Night Live" –
("Live" is, of course, the true test of a musician.)
LINDI ORTEGA – Lindi Ortega is Canada's best-kept secret. Canada has always been a great source of "American" rock: Neil Young, The Band, Joni Mitchell, etc., and Ms. Ortega should be able to cross the border. She sings terrifically, writes wonderful songs, and looks great. She's going to play the Roxy in April – just when I'll be out of town: damn!
THE MILK CARTON KIDS – Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan were enjoying unsuccessful solo careers until they combined to become The Milk Carton Kids, the most exciting duo in contemporary folk since Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Garrison Keillor has called them "absolute geniuses in close harmony," and he's right on target. If you like the Everly Brothers or Simon and Garfunkel, you have to hear these two guys sing together. (Currently, they do all original material, but soon they are going to have to start singing "The Boxer" – or else!)
EILEN JEWELL – Eilen Jewell is a little bluesy, a little jazzy, some folkie, some country, a little honky-tonk, some rockabilly, a touch of cabaret – and totally herself. I kept hearing this song – "Where They Never Say Your Name" – on Sirius radio, until I had to buy the CD. This woman is really good: cool on the surface, with a killer instinct underneath.
STURGILL SIMPSON – Every couple of years, someone comes along to "save" country music from whatever Nashville trend is threatening to destroy this noble genre (countrypolitanism, hat-acts, "bad rock and roll with fiddles," bro-country, Shania/Garth/Taylor, etc.) A couple of years ago it was Jamey Johnson. This year, it's Sturgill Simpson.
He sounds like Waylon Jennings, and he tries to write like Merle Haggard. I hope this guy goes forever.
Here he is on Letterman, singing "Life of Sin" –
"THANK GOD FOR THIS-HERE LIFE OF SIN!!"
-- and there were easily five more I could name. ... In another blog.
(And don't just listen to music on YouTube: BUY IT. SUPPORT MUSICIANS. Go on their websites and buy their music. Or soon, there won't be any more musicians.)