Things have been slow around here because I am in the process of moving. Fun!

In clearing out and packing up, I realized that I might have a few too many CDs lying around. Especially if the stated goal of the move is “downsizing.”

But my loss is your gain, potentially. I have packaged up a box of 30 (count ’em, 30) CDs that I have received promotionally over the last 12 years. Every CD in the box is from an artist featured at least one time on Fingertips. So while I can’t vouch for the consistent quality of every track on every disc in the grab bag, I do know that each album contains at the very least one very good song. Which is something!

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So here’s one great song you may not have heard before: “If Silence Means That Much to You,” by the Scottish singer/songwriter Emma Pollock, who has never gotten her due. Its sudden beginning made for a difficult segue but I didn’t let that stop me. It’s a good song and no one knows it and that always seems a shame to me. Another good song that you probably sort of know and sort of don’t: “Am I the Same Girl,” by Barbara Acklin. The instrumental track might sound very familiar, as it was taken out from under her and marketed as a single called “Soulful Strut,” without her vocals, before her (original) version was released. Acklin also never got her due. The music industry is like that.

Hat tips this month go first to the great and under-recognized Radio Paradise, the internet’s truest and most steadfast multi-genre, multi-decade radio station, run (somehow; unaccountably) by two people in California. When I’m not specifically checking out new releases, I find myself spending quite a lot of time listening to Radio Paradise, and I rarely hear the same song twice, even after hours of listening at a time. I “stole” two songs from them this time around: “Rain,” by the Icelandic singer/songwriter Elvör, and “Among the Bells,” from Jane Tyrrell, an artist and musician based in Calgary. And I must also salute the always endearing retro blog dustystevens, responsible for alerting me to the Duke Pearson track. I’m not much of a jazz guy but sometimes the right tune smacks me on the head at the right time and I surrender.

Full playlist below the widget.

How did this come to be? (Eclectic Playlist Series, 2.05) by Fingertipsmusic on Mixcloud

“Maybe Tomorrow” – The Chords (So Far Away, 1980)
“Trouble Every Day” – The Mothers of Invention (Freak Out, 1966)
“Rain” – Elvør (Room, 2012)
“Faster Than Light” – Neil Finn (Try Whistling This, 1998)
“Day OK” – Spiral Beach (Spiral Beach, 2005)
“Pointy Shoes” – Cowboys International (The Original Sin, 1979)
“Hey Now” – London Grammar (If You Wait, 2013)
“I’ve Got Something On My Mind” – The Left Banke (Walk Away Renée/Pretty Ballerina, 1967)
“Stepping Razor” – Peter Tosh (Equal Rights, 1977)
“As Cool As I Am” – Dar Williams (Mortal City, 1996)
“Minimal Affection” – The Vaccines (English Graffiti, 2015)
“Love Comes Quickly” – Pet Shop Boys (Please, 1986)
“If Silence Means That Much To You” – Emma Pollock (Watch the Fireworks, 2007)
“Say You’re Mine” – Duke Pearson (The Phantom, 1968)
“The Gospel According to Darkness” – Jane Siberry (When I Was a Boy, 1993)
“Adventurers” – Interview (Snakes and Lovers, 1980)
“Wild Country” – Thunderclap Newman (Hollywood Dream, 1970)
“Misery is a Butterfly” – Blonde Redhead (Misery is a Butterfly, 2005)
“Am I the Same Girl” – Barbara Acklin (Seven Days of Night, 1969)
“Among the Bells” – Jane Tyrrell (Echoes in the Aviary, 2014)

Heidi Gluck

“One of Us Should Go” – Heidi Gluck

A breath of frictionless fresh air, “One of Us Should Go” is a rapid-pulsed acoustic confessional, and if it initially sounds like just another “girl with a guitar” song I invite you to listen more carefully. The instrumentation is simple but rich: in fact, there’s not a moment in this three-minute heart-breaker that doesn’t reveal itself to be exquisitely conceived and executed, from thoughtful electric guitar contributions to well-timed piano accents and creative electronics. Gluck’s plain-spoken vocals, which achieve the difficult trick of sounding like talking even while singing, add to the subtle interpersonal drama on display.

And the extra awesome part is how beautifully the song’s sound and structure intertwines with its content: this is a stunning breakup song, in which the music’s very feel echoes the inertia of a relationship that has outlived its spark, and the words of the chorus betray the difficulty of breaking the passivity with actual action:

I’m sure it’s nice out there
I’m sure there’s beauty everywhere
A wide open road
And one of us should go

Gluck is Canadian by birth, but has been living and working in the US midwest for a length of time that eludes internet research; I do know that she spent some years in Indiana, and has been in Lawrence, Kansas for about the past eight. Careful readers of liner notes (yes, such people still exist!; I have faith) may recognize her name from her session work with Juliana Hatfield and Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos, among others; she was also a member of the well-regarded Indiana band The Pieces in the early ’00s. “One of Us Should Go” is a track from Gluck’s first release as a solo artist, an EP called The Only Girl in the Room, which was released at the end of April on Lotuspool Records. You can stream the whole thing via SoundCloud. MP3 via Magnet Magazine. The EP is the first of a planned series of four; work begins on the next one this summer.


“The Unheard”- Fabryka

Check out the rhythm section on this one: not often do you hear inventive bass-playing and inventive drumming intertwining so smartly while still allowing a coherent song to be built on top. And what a coherent and engaging song it turns out to be—astutely arranged and structurally sound, “The Unheard” is a marvelous slice of 21st-century rock’n’roll, coming to us from the seemingly unlikely source of Bari, Italy, down there at the top of the heel of Italy’s “boot.”

I like how busy and determined this is even while cloaking itself in a bit of shoegazey mist. There’s that rhythmic pulse at the bottom driving things, but it’s that ongoing, canny employment of both electric guitars and synthesizers that ultimately gives the ear a lot to chew on—so much, in fact, that what appears to be the song’s chorus (first heard at 1:31) feels like a dreamy breather between purposeful building blocks. Both the guitars and the synths each get a motif-like theme to express—the former a hard-charging, syncopated riff (first heard at 0:55), the latter a chimy noodle (1:21) that shares a similar sense of syncopation. The more I listen, the more I am impressed with the song’s construction, and the more I think I hear something genuinely timeless in its mix of drive and dream. Give good credit to singer Tiziana Felle, whose voice can penetrate or levitate, depending on the need.

“The Unheard” is a song from the band’s new EP, Sparkles, which comes out in Italy next week. This will be the band’s third release, following an EP in 2012 and a full-length album, Echo, in 2013.

Star Tropics

“Summer Rain” – Star Tropics

Urging itself into our lives at the ever-wonderful nexus of dream pop and power pop, “Summer Rain” features a ringing, evocative guitar line, a reverby backwash, a brisk backbeat, and a breath-filled, sweet-voiced lead singer. You don’t need any more description than that, right?

Well, okay, I’ll talk a little. First I am taken with how all but onomatopoetic the song is, with the aforementioned ringing guitar line deftly mimicking rainfall, and with the aforementioned sweet-voiced lead singer (Nikki; no last name provided) creating, for me, somehow, the sound-picture of a warm, grey-green landscape moistened by a gentle but persistent shower (note the summer rain evoked here is of the comforting old-school variety, not the terrifying climate-change-driven monsoons of the 2010s). Next I am oddly intrigued by the brief, willowy instrumental break two-thirds of the way through the song (2:22); when songs are this assured and on-point, I’m always interested in what they are going to do with a bit of leisure time, as it were. Here we get meander-y 25 seconds that begins with the guitar kind of refusing the spotlight that was seemingly aimed at it—rather than the confident chiminess of the intro we get unassertive arpeggios and, most intriguing of all, the distant sound of repeated notes played high up on the neck. The guitar is joined by a particularly low-tech kind of synthesizer, pushing out a wistful, air-toned melody that comes from an entirely different world than Planet Dream Pop but is all but heart-breaking and perfect.

Star Tropics is a Chicago-based four-piece with one previous 7-inch release to their name. “Summer Rain” is part of double-sided single released in March. MP3 via Insomnia Radio.