catching up – February 2019

February: never great. This year was no exception, but at least we were gifted an absurdly good amount of music to make the unending month a little more bearable than before. But just to reiterate: February is for the birds. Anyways, here’s what stuck with me during the shortest month of the year, along with a few playlists to make listening to it all that much easier for you. Enjoy.


“Cuz I Love You”- Lizzo
Let’s just state, again, for the record what has become an indisputable truth: Lizzo is a national treasure. “Cuz I Love You” is a deeply endearing, funny, ridiculously catchy love song, and is very easily one of the best songs I’ve heard so far in 2019. Additionally: I don’t want to talk about how many times I’ve listened to it over the last few weeks.

“Brooklyn”- Tyler Lyle
Man, this song. I’ve loved it since I first heard it back in 2017 as part of the first installment of his monthly Secret Lair project (it was called “Floating Empire” back then, and it was gooooooood, you guys). It was just Tyler and a guitar on that version, and this version adds only a few small, delicate, perfect touches and flourishes to what was already one of my favorite songs of his. We don’t know when his next full-length is coming, but it’s on the horizon and I, for one, can’t wait to hear it.

“Habit”- Rosie Tucker
Goodness, this one came out of nowhere and absolutely punched me right in the face. There’s something so engrossing about those moments when everything cuts out and Rosie starts rattling off her pointed observations, memories and/or grievances with old loves that won’t die (and maybe never fully will, honestly). They are my favorite moments in a song so far in 2019.

“Everybody Needs Somebody” / “Watching the Wires”- Hiss Golden Messenger
My favorite songwriter, currently, back with two songs that, for the moment, are one-offs and are, most certainly, perfect for this moment. There’s something about the way M.C. Taylor writes about life and how we are all making our way through it that connects deeply for me, and these songs are no different. I don’t think anyone is operating at the level- both in terms of quality and the sheer prolificness- that Hiss Golden Messenger is at currently.

“The Running Styles of New York”- The Tallest Man on Earth
A decade-plus into his career and it seems that Kristian Matsson is re-finding his voice. “The Running Styles of New York” finds its footing somewhere in the sweet spot between the raw, urgent work of Matsson’s early work and the lush-sounding output from his last few full-lengths, much like the songs on the tremendous EP he slowly revealed last year. It’s weird to say this after all this time, but I think this might be the best The Tallest Man on Earth has ever sounded.

and now, time for some playlists.

what I liked in February 2019
Here are the 20 songs I liked most this last month. It was a lot harder to get this cut down to just 20 than anticipated, honestly. There’s a track from Wild Pink that’s a b-side from my favorite record from 2018, a new one from Wet that has sounded perfect as spring starts to try to peek its head out from under the snow, a track from The Spielbergs that makes me feel young, a collaboration from Liz Cooper and Okey Dokey that is :::chef’s kiss:::, a cover of The National from Sophie Morgan that is, well, it is very, very good, a new tune from Donovan Woods that reminds us all that he only writes good songs, and a track from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever that is among the best I’ve heard all year, just to call out a few. They are all very good tunes, that’s what I’m trying to say. Listen below or click here to listen on Spotify.

covers I enjoy
I have been meaning to make this playlist for some time now and, well, it finally happened. Here are covers I like that are available on Spotify. I’m adding as I remember (the old brain isn’t the steel trap it used to be), so this list is far from complete, but it’s full of some of the very best covers I’ve ever heard. Every time Gillian Welch’s cover of “Black Star” comes on I think Radiohead should just give her all rights to the song. Listen below or click here to listen on Spotify.

winter2018/2019
Figured I’d go ahead and share this one last time since winter is (finally) winding down and I’m going to go ahead and start in on a spring playlist next week. These are the songs that got me through another long winter. Listen below or click here to listen on Spotify.

 

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catching up – January 2019

Hi there.

So, this blog exists again. I killed it a few months back because I had just grown tired of the whole thing despite the fact I listened to (and liked) more music last year than I had in a number of years, convinced I didn’t need the outlet and that I would find it easier to just post on Twitter and Facebook when something hit home. (Quick aside: thanks for all the kind words about the blog when I killed it. That meant a lot.) Anyways, sure, all that social media posting from my phone was easy, no doubt, but as the dead of winter has hit I’ve found myself missing the whole idea of this blog a lot, so I started to think about how I could bring it back in a way that would make me like it again. What I landed on was this: I’ll do a post at the end of each month (or, more likely, as happened this time around, the early part of the next month) outlining what stuck with me during the month and, most importantly, a little context of why I like it/why it stuck.

Truthfully, I was never really happy with the lazy nature of my posts the last few years, but I also had a crazy run of getting married and moving a few times and helping bring a new baby into the world and all that, so I suppose it makes sense why I lacked the ability to give any details beyond ‘it’s good and sounds nice’ for why I liked any particular song. I find myself with a bit more sleep nowadays, and a renewed feeling of wanting to write a bit about the music that floats around my life, so when I’ve got more to say I’ll add it. Also, I’ve gotten real into- read: somehow more into- making playlists, so this will serve as a sort of recap of what I put together and what’s been updated recently, in case you missed a social media post or two (we should all miss more social media postings). Related: one of the playlists each month will be one with the 20 songs I like most during that month. 20 feels like a good number, and I’ll try to outline some things I really liked as an introduction to it.

So, this is the first post of this blog’s new life. Below is what stuck with me in January. I hope some of this music connects with you. Enjoy.


“Light On (La Blogotheque – Live in Paris)”- Maggie Rogers
I won’t ruin this for you if you haven’t seen it yet, but there’s a moment that happens about a minute into this gorgeous video that unleashes the kind of joy we all need more of in our world. It brings this song to life in a way that the proper single version of it fails to, the exuberance that pops off the screen a perfect visual accompaniment to a song about gratitude and support. So, allow yourself to soak in the joy of this one. We could all use it.

“Kids”- PUP
This is three minutes and thirty seconds of bombastic youth, all ramshackle and rambunctious, full of sweaty anxiety and shouted brashness, and I love it more than I should as a dad/35 year-old. Also: we should all admire the way lead singer Stefan Babcock pulls off his wordy, Craig Finn-like disregard of the rhythm/time signature. Also: more songs with words like ‘calamity’ in them please. Also: I am a sucker for hook-laden melodic punk that reminds me of when I was much younger/not so, so, so old, you guys, so I would like more of it in my life in this, the year 2019.

my favorite tracks from January
Truthfully, the month got off to a slow start in general, but by the end I had a lot of trouble cutting this down to just 20 tracks. That Lizzo track is, as you’d expect, a banger. As someone who never got into Pedro the Lion when he was younger I think ‘Quietest Friend’ might be my gateway into fandom. The latest tune from Lady Lamb reminds us that a) she is a master b) she has a way with words/phrases and c) you’re never actually prepared for how many twists and turns her songs have (or the fact she can have it going 1000 different directions at once but it never seems out of sorts). The Better Oblivion Community Center track is my favorite from Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst’s new group, as it reminds me a bit of I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning-era Conor, which is what we all really crave. Frances Cone put out my favorite records so far this young year (Maggie Rogers and William Tyler also put out great albums in January), and the title track is such a tremendously beautiful, layered thing. The covers from both Perfume Genius and Lucy Dacus are superb, and it’s good to hear again from old friends Fort Frances, Small Houses, Josh Ritter, Bear’s Den, Strand of Oaks and Beirut. All in all, I’ve got extremely high hopes for 2019. (Click here to listen/follow on Spotify.)

some playlist updates, in case you’re looking for some other stuff to listen to:

winter2018/2019
Up over 130 songs now on this ongoing playlist, all of them made for the cold and short days. I’ll keep adding on this until my body tells me it’s time for it to be spring. So, soon, maybe, because winter remains the worst. (Click here to listen/follow on Spotify.)

perfect songs
So, I finally hit the wall on kids music and have recently become obsessed with introducing our baby girl (even subliminally, because she’s not standing still long enough to listen intently to a song, I can assure you that) to the best the world has to offer, or at least the songs I think are perfect and I wouldn’t change anything about. I’m continuing to add as I go, but it now stands at 100 tracks and I would engage in fisticuffs about any one of them. Additionally, some friends have taken on the same project and it makes me so happy a) that people are as big of nerds as me and b) to see the WILDLY DIFFERENT ideas people has as to what are perfect songs. If you’ve got a list like this that you’ve put together, I’d love to hear it. Music: the best, still. (Click here to listen/follow on Spotify.)

25 minutes with…
Related to our baby girl and our continued effort to make sure she listens to good music, I put together a whole bunch (20+) of mixes of artists I think she needs to be exposed to that are around 25 minutes long (the time it takes us to get to/from daycare). They aren’t always the best songs from a particular artist, though that sometimes happens, but my main goal was to feature upbeat songs from timeless artists that I think she, an 18-month old baby tornado, could maybe enjoy as she looks at herself in the backseat mirror. Below are two that have gotten her approval so far- Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon- but you can go over to my Spotify profile, click on public playlists and then scroll down to find all the others if you are looking for music for your baby (or even yourself and your commute).

 

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an ending (of sorts)

Alright, so, yeah, this post is probably a few years overdue, in all honesty. It’s time to end this blog. I’ve thought about it a lot over the last few years, talked myself out of it each time, but as the posts have gotten fewer and farther between, and my very old computer has gotten less and less capable of putting together and I’ve gotten less time/energy to create said posts, it’s become pretty clear it’s time to just stop thinking it’s necessary to keep this blog going, even as a sporadic thing.

This blog was, in a lot of ways, the only way I made it through the last 8-plus years. It started as a way to try and escape the loneliness of the suburbs of Chicago and ended up being something that got me through some real dark times, introduced me to so many good people that I’m lucky enough to get to have gotten know and can now call my friends, and allowed me to connect with a girl in Colorado who I’ve ended up marrying and having the most beautiful baby with. It’s been the best thing in a lot of ways, but as our baby grows and life turns more and more into a blur, it’s time to say goodbye to that thing that allowed the progression of these last 8-plus years to happen.

So, all of that’s to say this is the last post of this blog. However, I’m not done loving and sharing music, because that’s impossible. I’ll still be around on Twitter and Facebook (links to those places are over on the right side of the screen- come say hi!) and updating my Spotify playlists of ongoing stuff I’m listening to and new stuff you should check out that came out during the current week and creating new ongoing playlists each season and adding to the playlist of all the songs from all the mixes/playlists I’ve made (and continue to make) over the years, but I just won’t be over here creating posts about it or worrying about what words to say about what song/playlist.

Thank you so much for reading the site, commenting, reaching out and connecting via this little corner of the internet. It’s meant more than I can really properly articulate. Be well, friends.

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catching up

Oh man, have we got some tunes to talk about.

“I Won’t Run From It”- Big Red Machine
Very here for Justin Vernon doing Bruce Hornsby.

“Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go”- Spiritualized
Perfect for those lazy, late summer golden hours.

“Waves of Galveston”- Iron & Wine
I love when we get this version of Sam Beam.

“Delores & Kimberly”- Advance Base
I keep getting lost in this one for significant chunks of time. Like a dreamy, Damien Jurado-esque heart punch of a song.

“Groceries”- Gia Margaret
Speaking of punches to the heart/feelings. Holy hell.

“Up At Night”- Toast
A perfectly floaty tune for the dog days of summer.

“Pizza Body”- Conner Youngblood
This one, too.

“Caves”- Gregory Alan Isakov
Man, the last minute or so of this one is so damn good.

“America 2”- The Midnight
I just love Tyler’s voice in this one so much.

“Beautiful Baby”/”Unseen Girl”- Emily Brown
Very, very excited for this album.

“Low Parade Rain”- Adam Arcuragi
It’s been a really long time. It’s nice to hear from Adam and the gang again.

“How Much”- Tiny Ruins
Goodness, this is a delightful-sounding tune.

“About”- Another Michael
Another one of those perfect late-summer tunes.

“New Birth In New England”- Phosphorescent
I’d be very much about Matthew Houck making a Graceland-ish record, if that’s what this is trying to tell me he’s going to be doing.

“Habits”- Adeline Hotel
:::Right Clicks:::
:::Adds to playlist for Fall:::

“Ohio Is For Lovers”/ “Ohio (Is For Lovers)”- Lucy Wainwright Roche
Two versions of one very good song.

“Window”- Mountain Man
This is lovely.

 

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catching up – summer playlists edition

So, yeah, I’ve made a few playlists/mixes this summer that I haven’t shared around here (or have shared, but have continued to update), so thought I’d just go ahead and round them up in one convenient place, just for you.

summertime2018– all jams, whether those be pop jams or rock & roll jams (or somewhere between the two). I’ve been constantly updating this one all summer and there are currently 117 tunes in it. Listen/follow on Spotify.

late summer mornings – because these slower, cooler mornings deserve some quieter, cozier tunes. I’ll keep adding to this one, too, until summer ends. Listen/follow on Spotify.

golden hour vol. 1 & 2 – a few collections of tunes made with the express intent of being the perfect soundtrack for those long, golden hours just before the sun is fully down for the day. Listen/follow vol. 1 and/or vol. 2 on Spotify.

my favorite songs of 2018 (so far) – pretty self-explanatory. 25 of my favorite tunes so far this year. And then below that is the big ongoing list with the 300+ tunes I’ve loved so far in 2018 (which will include more as we go along, obviously). Listen/follow the short version or the long version on Spotify.

 

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catching up

Here’s the best of what I’ve heard lately.

“Yolk In The Fur”- Wild Pink
The new Wild Pink album is my favorite album of they ear so far, everyone.

“Lost Boy”- The Midnight
This + summer is a very good match, you guys.

“Keeping Time”- Angie McMahon
The world really needs the debut album from Angie McMahon to be a thing that’s in the world soon.

“Work Out”/”65th & Ingleside”- Chance the Rapper
Yesssssssss.

“Hard Way”/”Easy Come Easy Go”- Glorietta
Very happy this super group is a serious thing and not some joke band, if I’m being honest. These are both very, very good.

“Your Own”- Sales
This sounds like these dog days of summer.

“Make Time 4 Love”- The Goon Sax
This, too, sounds like summer.

“Grow into a Ghost”- Swearin’
Turn this all the way up.

“What Hurts Worse”- Iron & Wine
This is lovely.

“Light on the Ground”- Valley Maker
This one, too.

“Baby”- Harvey Trisdale
Like a leisurely stroll.

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catching up

It’s been a long time. Here are the tunes that I’ve been really into since the last time we talked.

“Chemicals”- Gregory Alan Isakov
Very, very excited there’s a new album from Mr. Isakov coming in October.

“Gratitude”/”Hymnostic”- Big Red Machine
Oh. Oh wow.

“Wish You Well”- Emma Louise
Written from a male perspective, sung by a woman, put through a machine to sound like a man singing. I am here for this.

“Jewels Drossed in the Runoff”- Wild Pink
Really can’t wait for this Wild Pink album, you guys.

“The Red Door”- Restorations
Can’t wait for this one, either.

“Orchard”- LVL UP
Those horns. They do it for me.

“Golden Lonesome”- Glorietta
More like this from this super group, please.

“Ride”- Valley Queen
The debut full-length from Valley Queen comes out this Friday. Count me among those who are excited about it.

“You’re Not Wrong”- Wet
This sounds like summer.

“Me and My Friends”- James Vincent McMorrow
This one, too.

“Who Said It First”- Kississippi
This is rather wonderful.

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