“Tomorrow on the Runway” – the Innocence Mission

A simple tune, cleanly produced, and beautifully sung, “Tomorrow on the Runway” is sweet, sad, and lovely without being cloying. If you’re at all familiar with the Sundays, you may find lead singer Karen Pertis’s voice eerily familiar-sounding. This one comes from the Innocence Mission’s recent CD, Befriended, which was released in September.

“So Says I” – the Shins

Check out the deep-rooted ’60s-pop vibe in this one, from its “Build Me Up Buttercup” swing to its Grass Roots-ish vocals and timely distortions. But “So Says I” is no nostalgia trip; there’s something urgent and up-to-date going on here. Content-wise I’m still unpacking this song, as the lyrics rush by in a somewhat indecipherable whirl. But you don’t have to understand every word to sense that this is the latest notable addition to that special club of songs presenting dark lyrics to a breezy tune. It occurs to me that this may truly be one of pop music’s distinctive gifts, a memorable way to embody the underlying paradox of life itself. For those less in need of metaphorical inspiration, consider this a spiffy little song and leave it at that.

“Ice Water” – Peter Case

Down-home, shuffly folk-blues from a guy who has never managed to get the attention he deserves. One-time leader of American new wave pop group the Plimsouls, Case went on in the ’80s and ’90s to a solo career as troubadour-style storyteller. This song originally appeared on his highly recommended solo debut Peter Case (released in 1986); this version comes from an album called Thank You St. Jude, which found Case performing a collection of his best songs, rearranged in stripped-down, acoustic versions, recreating the feel of his road show. This one leaps from the speakers with glee and gusto.




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