Hello, friends. Spring is finally in the air here at GrayDays Gardens but ongoing vaccine ineligibility leaves me ensconced in my psychedelic cocoon, compiling another hour of the most interesting new music that March 2021 has to offer… and, as always, meeting (or exceeding) the Gray Days and Gold ‘M4’ pledge: maximum melody, moderate melancholy.
You can listen to this episode via the embedded player just below in this post—if you don’t see it, try turning off your ad-blocker then reloading the page—or on the Mixcloud website, via the Mixcloud mobile app, on your Sonos system, etc.
There’s also a more barebones iteration of this episode’s playlist on Spotify (minus my commentary, as well as songs that are missing from their library).
If you like what you hear, please support the artists. You’ll find buy links to all the tracks in the bulleted list below.
- Landslide Purist, “Guiltshire” (2021) • BUY
- Chloë March, “Silver Grey City” (2021) • BUY
- PANS, “Great Sphere” (2021) • BUY
- Dialect, “Under~Between” (2021) • BUY
- Blumi, “Cold War” (2021) • BUY
- XTC, “Ladybird” (1983) • BUY
- MF Tomlinson, “Them Apples” (2021) • BUY
- Shmu, “biologiCastles” (2021) • BUY
- Bernice, “Empty Cup” (2021) • BUY
- Maxwell Farrington & Le SuperHomard, “We, Us the Pharaohs” (2021) • BUY
- Field Works, “La’āli’” (2021) • BUY
- Joseph Mihalcean, “Parle-moi” (2021) • BUY
- Martin Newell, “Miss Van Houten’s Coffee Shoppe” (1995) • BUY
High Castle Teleorkestra, “Valisystem A”
I’d have included this in the show if the artist had made individual tracks available for purchase; unfortunately, due to budgetary constraints, $10 to obtain just the one song (plus alternate mixes, stems, etc.) was a bridge too far. Still, this A-side is a terrific composition (masterminded by Mr. Bungle alum Clinton “Bär” McKinnon) and I’d love to hear what they’d do with a full album.
Martin Newell, “Miss Van Houten’s Coffee Shoppe” (live at The Golden Afternoon, 2015)
I was incredibly fortunate to be in the UK in September 2015 when Newell opted to give a London performance of his annual Golden Afternoon solo showcase. St. Giles in the Fields, at the end of Denmark St. (and the architecture of which, Martin informed me, was featured in the cover artwork of 1987’s Cleaners from Venus Going to England album) made a striking concert venue, and I was so dumbfounded to find myself sitting in the front pew for the entire show that many songs had elapsed before it occurred to me to use the Voice Memos app on my phone to document the proceedings. Martin’s solo piano version of this song helps highlight just how good its bones are, stripped of Louis Philippe’s intricate production. Click here to listen.
Elvis Costello with Burt Bacharach, Painted from Memory @ Sessions at West 54th
I’m a huge fan of the pair’s 1998 album, and I’d never known that they recorded this live performance for the Sessions at West 54th series. Apparently it was only ever available on VHS, so thanks to an Italian uploader for posting it to YouTube.
Doug & Linda Balogh on owning WOXY, an independent radio station
Anyone who’s explored my website has probably run across at least one of my tributes to 97X WOXY 97.7 FM, the small-but-mighty (and now-defunct) Oxford, OH radio station which was instrumental in shaping my musical tastes. Arguably, the fact that Gray Days and Gold exists—that I feel it’s genuinely important to spend a significant amount of my time, energy and money seeking worthwhile new music and curating those finds into an artful listening experience which reaches only a relative handful of listeners—is rooted in WOXY’s example.
The unsung heroes of the story are the station’s owners, Doug and Linda Balogh. It’s virtually inconceivable in the current landscape to imagine a married couple of media professionals buying a terrestrial radio station, as the Baloghs did in 1981, much less their decision to dedicate it to music that most potential listeners and advertisers had never heard of. How they made it work is a fascinating story, and a shining example of the very real balance that can be struck between business and art. (The misconception that art and business never happily coexist is a particular pet peeve in our household, where my wife advises authors on the business aspects of writing for a living.)
The strength of WOXY’s impact is evidenced in the fact that two former DJs created a podcast, 97X – Rumblings from the Big Bush (now more than sixty episodes deep), to interview staff and explore the station’s history and legacy. While the recent two-part interview with the Baloghs is essential listening for WOXY babies like me, who owe the couple a huge debt of gratitude, I think it’s also enlightening for anyone interested in entrepreneurship and the business of media.
(Back in 2019 I was honored to be a guest on the podcast, a fact which I never promoted at the time out of, believe it or not, humility. That episode’s here. Many thanks to Damian and Dave for their hard work.)
As always, thanks for listening. If you have questions, suggestions, etc. please feel free to contact me. And if you’d like to receive these posts via email, you can sign up for my newsletter here. Take care.
[Silk cocoons image courtesy IceNineJon, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]