It’s always fun to anticipate a new music release from a favorite artist. This summer is a real bonanza for me. Several singer/songwriters I’ll follow down any melodic path had albums drop practically on top of each other, after what seemed like forever since empty spots with their names on them reigned for far too long.

Among them:

Smashing Pumpkins — The first time the Pumpkins blipped on my radar the blip was huge. Lifealtering in a way, since the band’s highly intelligent songs that run the gamut from hard rocking to near lullaby like delicate beauty, have long inspired me as a writer. Their new album Oceania hits the sweet spot between hard rock and melodic sung poetry, with my favorites of its songs being Pinwheels, One Diamond, One Heart, Wildflower, and The Celestials.

Oh, that big blip song that instantly made me a lifelong fan? The End Is the Beginning Is the End…ear ecstacy the likes of which I’d never before encountered. That Billy Corgan has continued to produce many songs I’ve loved just as much since takes unique talent and a deep love of the art.

Fiona Apple — When her debut album Tidal exploded onto the music scene, it was as if someone had suddenly redefined modern music of the time. The thing I love about Alternative music is that it embraces so many sub and sub sub sub genres that it very nearly defies categorization. Fiona Apple fits right in, as her brand of creativity often flirts with defying music as we know it.

Highly individual and and often vocabulary challenging, it mesmerizes the brain with explosions of love and soft peals of pain. It makes me think, sometimes a little too hard, but it also loses me in a web of words and emotions that aren’t easy to shake off. That’s a good thing, in case I’m not being perfectly clear. As I write this my mind edges sideways, to contemplate some of the more intricate word phrasing and melodies in her new album, The Idler Wheel….

If you’re a Fiona fan you already know what all those dots mean. If you’re not, do yourself a favor and Google the full titles of The Idler Wheel… and When the Pawn…. Those two album titles reveal a lot about how her mind works, and her fans’ as well for followering where her lexicon leads. My favorite Idler Wheel songs: Every Single Night, Werewolf, Periphery, and Hot Knife. That last one is one is so gorgeous and cool, with rapid fire layered vocals, that one listen just will not do.

Regina Spektor — To be completely honest, the first time I heard her sing was on a late night talk show and at first I didn’t like her. This girl has some serious quirks, both vocal and lyrics.

Unusual phrasings, melodies, and…well, sounds can be interruptive at first flush of introduction. I mean, she makes her own sound effects, but so well that I sometimes don’t know if she’s using a computer or her mouth, unless she’s live on TV and I see her singing the effects. It’s no exaggeration to say I’ve never heard anything like her.

Nor is it exaggeration to say I quickly got used to what I now call the quirky goodness of Regina Spektor, and she became one of my favorites. She has a beautiful voice and is a brilliant pianist. Add unique and intelligent songwriter, and it’s no wonder she’s found a prominent place among people who love great music. My favorite tracks on her latest CD What We Saw From The Cheap Seats are Smalltown Moon, Firewood, Oh Marcello, and All The Rowboats.

I’ve been enjoying the thrill of discovering new music that I know will become new favorites, but it doesn’t really compare to how great it is finding out that old favorites are about to release their next best new thing. The anticipation of hearing it for the first time, not wanting that initial listening experience to end, and knowing happy listening will last all summer…and beyond…that’s why I am a card carrying music nut.

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