Islands in the Stream: 6/4/24

Giving some love to artists who don't get enough of it

Islands in the Stream: 6/4/24
Islands, stream, etc.

Islands in the Stream is a periodic series that highlights songs I've liked by artists who have a relatively low number of monthly listeners. It's like a public service with a dash of the thrill of discovery. What else could you ask for?

"Fair Shake," Hanover
Give me a stomping beat, make me wait a few moments before a swirling organ kicks in, toss in a few hooks in the bargain, and I'm yours. Hanover checks all the boxes with "Fair Shake," which suggests that even after all these years of being the Texas town everyone can agree on, Austin still isn't done giving us super cool shit.

"She's On My Mind," Joel Knight
"She's On My Mind" is admittedly fairly textbook stuff — you could easily imagine it being performed by a character in a John Carney movie — but as I've said here before, formulas become formulas because they work, and Joel Knight works it well here. Driving beat, catchy melody, perfectly tasteful production; I'd like to hear a lot more like this from him.

"Not the End," Rob Fetters
I don't know what to say about "Not the End" other than that it's a sweet and catchy pop song about how things just might work out fine — and, in fact, they probably will. Then again, I'm not sure much more needs to be said; if you could use a song that feels like a comforting arm around your shoulder, then Rob Fetters is here for you.

"Storm's Coming," Callum Wylie
Callum Wylie hails from Naarm, Melbourne, where he's apparently had easy access to albums by artists all along the John Prine spectrum. Some program director somewhere would probably call this Americana if it wasn't from Australia. Me, I just call it a wonderfully written and sensitively performed song. Good for long drives and cold beers at dusk.

"Everybody Knows," Trae Sheehan
The fact that Trae Sheehan put his phone number in his artist bio suggests he might not be the smartest singer-songwriter in the world. On the other hand, he does know that not enough songs contain the line "that asshole's a loser" in the chorus, so I have to give him credit for that. Also, "Everybody Knows" is simply a lot of fun to listen to.

"Shorty," Hallesby
Given that I can't understand a single word of Hallesby's bio, I suspect he hails from some snowy inlet in northern Europe — but you'd never know it by listening to "Shorty," which is simply a lovely acoustic ballad that sounds like it could have been sung by your neighbor (provided your neighbor is a talented songwriter with a really beautiful singing voice and absolutely no trace of an northern European accent). Hallesby also gets bonus points because I think his first name is Thor-Martin, which is absolutely rad.

"Runnin'," Maybe Canada
Drawn from the same bucolic vein as Hallesby's music, Maybe Canada's "Runnin'" sounds like a song that might have appeared on a Paste Magazine CD sampler 20-odd years ago, and even though you'd never heard of the band before listening to it and lost track of them afterwards, it held a special place in your heart and maybe also ended up on a bunch of mixes you made for other people.

"Annie from the Rainy City," Travis Ehrenstrom
Under different circumstances, I can imagine this song being performed by Levon Helm, who certainly would have given the vocals a very different character but also would have substantially improved the drum track. Percussive quibbling aside, "Annie from the Rainy City" is easy to love, and if it's exactly the type of thing you'd expect to hear from a guy whose artist photo shows him playing mandolin with a stream in the background, there's nothing wrong with truth in advertising.

"West Memphis," Parlor Greens
On the long list of my complaints regarding the state of modern music, "not enough organ trios" ranks fairly high, so it pleases me to no end to discover that Parlor Greens are here to funk our asses into oblivion. I do not know and have never spoken with Booker T., but I can only imagine that he would approve.

"Please," Modern Day Heroes
Sometimes you're in the mood for a song that smells like smoke and has the viscosity of really good barbecue sauce. "Please" is exactly that type of song — it's loud, swaggering, and mean, but in a way that lets you know it's your kind of mean, and will step in with an expertly placed karate chop to the Adam's apple of anyone who dares mess with you while it's playing. Goes to 11 and has a kickass time doing so.