It goes without saying that I am one of those people that considers himself a Monkees fanatic. I have every album in various deluxe editions that have been released over the years. On lesser albums I’ve sifted through the filler to find the gems (there are not too many lesser albums though.) John Lennon may be one of my musical idols, but sometimes I just prefer to listen to The Monkees over The Beatles. Those late 60’s albums by the “Prefab Four” stand up to anything their peers were putting out at the time. Live, I’ve never seen all 4 at the same time. In 1997 I saw Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork in Valley Forge, PA for the Justus tour. In 2012 I saw Micky Dolenz solo at a small casino just weeks after Davy Jones passed away. And in 2013 I saw Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork in downtown Seattle. All shows were memorable and expertly performed – the band members have come a long way from their origins as a make-believe band put together for a television show. A few months ago it was announced that The Monkees would be releasing a new album for their 50th anniversary. I wondered – would this be like The Beach Boys album from a few years ago (I can’t remember anything from that one) or would it be something special? The fact that the project was being produced by Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger gave me hope – I love Fountains of Wayne’s unique power pop perspective.
I have to be honest – I’ve always had a weak spot for female acoustic folk type music. I think it began in the early 90’s with the release of the first Jewel record, Pieces of You. I bought the CD well before any of the songs were played on the radio (what a hipster thing to say) and fell in love with almost 3/4 of the record. So began my pursuit of following female artists that followed that mold – folk based with insanely catchy melodies and lyrics that resonate. To be honest, this is a hard position to straddle – what works for some artists can easily come off as boring music paired with bad poetry (no names, it is all in the eye of the beholder). Amy Hill hails from Brighton, England and her debut album, Place of Mind, is an album that recalls early Jewel while retaining its own unique charm.