In case you haven't noticed, it's July! Here's the music we're vibing to during these dog days of summer.
This series highlights our favorite music of the moment – discoveries we’ve made when we’re at home cooking or cleaning, at the office, or out and about. Classical or otherwise, old, new, or just really cool, these are the tracks we’ve had on repeat this month. Find a cumulative playlist at the end of this post. Happy listening!
Carly Rae Jepsen -- Don't Speak
Imagine my surprise when I discovered, a few weeks back, that there was a Carly Rae Jepsen song I hadn't heard before. This cover of No Doubt's "Don't Speak" is perhaps even better than the original, and it's been stuck in my head basically nonstop.
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra; Neeme Järvi -- Stenhammar: Serenade in F Major, Op. 31
As we were heading out the door for a recent road trip to New Hampshire, I grabbed a few CDs at random, as one does! And once we were on our way, this came on the car stereo, and it brought back a flood – not really of memories, but of feelings, and especially the feeling of being embraced by a beautiful landscape. The Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar started writing this Serenade on a trip to Italy in 1906, and it’s full of the lighthearted openness of the Italian countryside, with a Nordic dreaminess as well. For me, it was the perfect accompaniment to a week in the country.
Alexendre Tharaud -- Milhaud: Saudades do Brasil, Op. 67: Sorocabo
Just because everything is so hard these days, this album... is just for listening. No thinking, no over-thinking required. This month, I'm gravitating to Alexandre Tharaud playing some of Darius Milhaud's simplest piano pieces. Milhaud's "Saudades do Brazil" (Salutations from Brazil), a suite of dances based on Brazilian tunes, makes you forget today's "stuff." None are longer than 2 minutes, and my favorite is the first dance, "Sorocabo." These days I just set the CD on auto-replay.
Lara Downes -- Price: Clouds
On the Fourth of July, I took a walk through one of those small towns west of Boston that takes pride in its Revolutionary War history. And for a soundtrack, I chose a fantastic new recording of Copland’s Third Symphony by the San Francisco Symphony, led by Michael Tilson Thomas. When I got back in my car, I turned on WCRB just in time to hear Lara Downes play Florence Price’s “Clouds.” Hitting my ears only moments after Copland’s high-voltage orchestral bolt of mid-century American optimism and energy, the solo piano sound of Price’s extreme intimacy and quiet sophistication – written at just about the same time Copland penned his symphony – created a perfect combination for a day commemorating the ideals and as-yet unmet aspirations of our country.
Brian Stokes Mitchell, Robert Billig -- "The Impossible Dream," from Man of La Mancha
Sometimes, comfort food is your favorite musical on repeat - ad nauseum - especially the track that triggers some tears. The way that Brian Stokes Mitchell sings "No matter how hopeless - no matter how far" still makes me catch my breath. Pop this on, close your eyes, and let 'em flow.
Stevie Ray Vaughan -- Riviera Paradise
In last month’s Instant Replay, Laura talked about one of those “lemonade songs.” In these hot summer days, there’s no escape like the poetry of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and this is one of the best.
Julia Jacklin -- Pressure to Party
I’ve had Julia Jacklin’s album “Crushing” on repeat lately (helps that I impulse-bought it on vinyl a month or so ago) and this song really speaks to me. Maybe it’s the lyrics, oddly suited to isolation in lockdown and the pressure to create and still be social when sometimes you just want to curl up in a ball and ignore crushing reality; maybe it’s the beat perfect for cathartic thrashy apartment dancing. This song is a whole mood.
Listen to the full playlist: