The short of it:
I’m writing to introduce my newest labor of love: Gray Days and Gold, a streaming music show where melody and mood—mostly melancholy—meet. I’ll be highlighting timeless, inventive songcraft that doesn’t shy away from composition, arrangement, defiance of easy genre classification… and often bears a wistful tinge. (Prettiness is a dull flavor without the salt of sadness.) Each episode will feature songs new and old, while always striving to express a mood that complements the season.
The show will be available for free listening on Mixcloud (via desktop, mobile app, Sonos… I often find myself pausing on one and resuming on another), but you can also listen here on my site. To be notified whenever there’s a new episode, follow me on Mixcloud or sign up for for my email updates.
You can browse all the episodes here.
The long of it:
In the immediate wake of the 2016 US election, I saw the effects of the 24-hour outrage machine taking hold and despaired at the emotional unsustainability of it. I’m as angry and frustrated as anyone of conscience must be with the current state of things and, as John Lydon sang, anger is an energy… but it’s one that’s endlessly fueled, primarily serves to burn things to the ground, and doesn’t nourish the soul. (And, let’s not kid ourselves: at the end of the day John goes home and sits in a very comfy chair.)
That’s when the idea for this show set in. As the notion percolated, the intervening years have brought “self-care” to the buzzword forefront and an increase in the sharing of memes that encourage people to make something beautiful and soul-soothing instead of just adding kindling to the blaze. It just so happens that my soul’s soothed by doing a crossword puzzle while grooving gently to music that makes me contemplate mortality and which sounds vaguely reminiscent of the weather outside my window.
In addition, I’ve seen musicians state that, in this era when audience attention is microscopically fractured and album sales (much less streams) add little to their bottom line, the most useful contribution a fan can make is to spread the word. (On occasions when I realize a friend’s just happily discovered an artist that I’ve considered essential for ages, I feel a bit like I’ve failed in the realm of musical citizenship.)
But it’s not necessarily easy to find sources or online communities dedicated to the type of music that I want to discover and promote. Plenty of resources exist for fans of mainstream pop and indie rock, and I still have the utmost sympathy for each new generation’s take on the three-chords-and-the-truth ethos, but where’s the gathering place for those of us whose boat is maximally floated by at least two more chords (preferably including a major seventh), some vibes, a flute, and maybe a harpsichord that tantalizingly only appears in the background of the second verse?
So, partly to force myself to pay more attention to new music flying under the radar, partly because I’m perennially obsessed with highlighting older music that’s always worth hearing, and partly from a desire to connect with those of like-minded tastes, I’m making Gray Days and Gold.
If all this sounds up your alley, I encourage you to check out two other people whose musical curation I find invaluable and whose shows can also be found on Mixcloud. There will undoubtedly be moments when my own show has unconsciously or otherwise cribbed from, or simply been inspired by, them:
- Martin Newell’s Oddcaste, which exemplifies the freewheeling whims of its host’s eclectic fancies to which I aspire, with no regard for genre, era or expectation.
- Chris Evans’ The Curve Ball, wholly devoted to the exposure of new music that’s “adventurous, genre-busting [and] never loses sight of the importance of melody.”
If you’d like to offer feedback, please drop me a line, leave a comment on an episode’s page here or on Mixcloud, or get in touch via social media. And, of course, if you enjoy the show or know someone else whose black little heart would be warmed by it, please share it with them.
Thanks for listening!