catching up – May 2019

Guys. I’m gonna be honest: May was very long. So long, in fact, that we started comparing it to January. You know, that month with 87 days and 57 Monday’s. Hell, we even had snow here in Colorado. ANYWAYS. We made it through, in spite of the snow and unending gray days and our daughter finally getting some teeth (which also meant she was teething, which also meant we were treated to sleep deprivation for random stretches of time which, let me tell you, is a delightful way to live) AND DID I MENTION SNOW IN FREAKING MAY. Okay. I’m good. I promise. Alright. So, yeah. It was a forever month, but it also turned out that May was the best month of new music so far this year. Let’s talk about it.


We Get By – Mavis Staples
All soul and gospel and grit and pain and redemption and truth, the new Mavis Staples record sounds both fresh and like a classic from the jump and is very easily one of my favorite records of 2019.

“Blown to Bits”- Charly Bliss
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve listened to this song on the sunny days recently. It’s absolute perfection.

“Too Much”/”Want You In My Room”- Carly Rae Jepsen
The thing about Carly Rae Jepsen is she writes and performs perfect pop songs and I can’t get enough of them and I don’t care who knows it whatever come at me.

“Leona”- Strange Ranger
Well, this is certainly one of the most delightfully catchy songs I’ve heard this year.

“fifteen/feet”- Nora Rothman featuring Cape Francis
I’ve found this track absolutely mesmerizing lately, leaving it on repeat for long stretches of time and just letitng myself get lost in that percussion. What a beautiful track.

The Maes – The Maes
One of the most delightful discoveries of my year so far, this Australian duo made a very good record full of dusty tunes and tremendously lovely harmonies. RIYL coffee and quiet mornings and, sure, quiet snowy May mornings (you monster).


Alright, let’s talk about playlists, shall we?

what I liked in May 2019
Guys, this was a good one, so this playlist is a lot more robust than normal, and it covers all of the ground in every direction. Songs for your feelings (The National, Donny Woods, Gia Margaret, The Maes), songs to play loudly (Charly Bliss, Barrie, Strange Ranger, Ra Ra Riot, The Get Up Kids), songs to play even more loudly (Jamila Woods, Carly Rae Jepsen, Chance the Rapper) and a whole bunch of stuff between those points that can just be categorized as Very Good Musics (Seratones, Oso Oso, Slaughter Beach, Dog, Fort Frances). Again: it was a very, very good month. This is the playlist of what I think was best. Listen below or click here to listen/follow on Spotify.

summertime2019
Let’s. Do. This. Here’s the playlist I’ll be adding to all summer. Will it have cool songs? Maybe, yes. But will it for sure have big dumb pop jamz and sunny rock & roll tunes and be devoid of soft sad bastard music? YES THAT IS AN AFFIRMATIVE, FRIEND. Summer is not about being cool. It is about listening to big, sometimes dumb, always wonderfully catchy songs and getting sunburned and drinking your beverage of choice and wearing sunglasses and pretending you are young for a few minutes at a time. These are songs for those times. Listen below and/or click here to listen/follow along on Spotify.

spring2019
So yeah, technically still spring. But this playlist is all done now, though I wanted to share it one last time because it’s full of the goods. Enjoy for a few more days, at least, while you wait for the official start of summer. Listen below or click here to listen/follow on Spotify.

 

Advertisements
Posted in catching up | Leave a comment

catching up – April 2019

Oh. Hey there. Hi. Hello. It’s a new month so let’s talk about last month, the first month in 2019 that I was employed and the first month in almost a year in which I had a regular commute and went into an office and talked regularly face to face with people I wasn’t related to. It was a good month, guys. Anyhow, let’s talk about the stuff that I either a) played very loudly in the car while driving to/fro work or b) listened to at a reasonable volume in the car and felt things while driving to/fro work.


I Love You. It’s a Fever Dream. – The Tallest Man on Earth
Gotta say, I really wasn’t expecting to say this, given my love of The Wild Hunt and Shallow Grave, but The Tallest Man on Earth just put out the best record of his career (and my favorite record of 2019 so far). This is, as my wife told me, what he should sound like, what he’s been trying to sound like the last few records and didn’t start to really get his footing on until the demo project a few years back and the EP he slowly dripped out last year. There’s an urgency to it, but a considered one, one that comes with time and heartbreak and rebuilding your life and figuring out what exactly matters. It’s lush in all the right ways and at all the right times, and bare in all the right ways at all the right times, and a combo of the two in all the right ways at all the right times. It’s an astoundingly gorgeous and engrossing album, and I’m so glad we finally hear the sound he’s seemingly been chasing for over a decade.

Cuz I Love You- Lizzo
I mean, I knew this Lizzo album was gonna be rambunctious and raucous and fun and ridiculous and insightful and important and full of bangers, but this, you guys, is more of all of those things than I had really anticipated. Bonus: my daughter loves dancing to it (“Juice” and “Tempo” are her jams, because she is a small human lady of taste, duh). Anyways, this is as good as everyone has been saying and I have played it very loudly in my car and that has been a lot of fun.

“Oh Weather”- Damien Jurado
Damien Jurado’s new album, The Shape of the Storm, is a truly stunning set of stripped-down tunes, and, for me, the best album he’s made in a number of years. “Oh Weather” is the tune I keep coming back to on it, a minute-or-so love song that’s all of three stanzas, but that packs a perfectly concise haymaker to the feelings within. He’s still got it.

“Hello Sunshine”- Bruce Springsteen
Well, I suppose in the year 2019- a year when all sorts of weird shit keeps happening and somehow making sense- maybe we should have expected for The Boss to start making lush, sweeping, late 60’s/early 70’s-era country songs (and for it to sound good and natural and not at all out of character). 2019 is…something.

They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib
I don’t read books. My wife refers to me as ‘functionally illiterate,’ actually. (It’s not true, I can read. She is just rude sometimes and for sure not very funny. WHATEVER. I love her.) Anyyyyyyyhow, I read a book this last month, and it was this one. And I still can’t stop thinking about these essays, a vast number of them about music, all of them about the messy intersections of life and music and race and culture and place and time and grief and love and living. It’s full of staggering, intensely beautiful writing, the kind that sticks in your brain weeks after reading and causes you to look at and listen to life a little differently. It’s so, so good, and I can’t recommend it enough (and I’m not just saying that because it’s the first book I’ve read cover to cover in a few years).

…time to talk about playlists

what I liked in April 2019
Cool. Yeah. So, this was a good month. We got that stuff I mentioned before (one additional note on Damien’s album: I can’t believe an official version of “Newspaper Gown” is finally out in the world- it’s been one of my favorite tracks for forever and I’m so, so happy we have it now), but we also got so much more. There’s another new jammmmm from Carly Rae Jepsen, Noname continuing to show that she’s operating on a different level than just about everyone, a new one from Spanish Love Songs that makes me feel 17, a John Hiatt cover from Dan Mangan that will knock the wind out of you, a stunning new one from Lucy Dacus just in time for Mother’s Day, a new one of those tremendously wordy, terrifically poignant songs that only Josh Ritter could write, and, lastly, the fantastic lead track from the fantastic debut album from Jade Bird (who is a powerhouse, just FYI). Anyhow, here are all those tracks and more- all the ones I liked best that came out in April. Listen below or click here to listen/follow on Spotify.

spring2019
So this guy is still chugging along, still sounding like spring in all it’s many forms. It’s got 131 songs as of this very moment, each one of which I’d ride hard for/think should be part of your spring soundtrack. Listen below or click here to listen/follow along on Spotify.

good morning. good luck and if you carry the good news show me
I haven’t made a real, sequenced mix in a good long while, but the mood finally struck me and so I created the below two mixes for my friend Matt, who runs the superb LINERNOTES & SEASONS. One was made for those slow, grey spring mornings that feel slower and greyer than any before, one was made for bright spring days when you can hear the kids playing down the street, and both are full of tunes I’ve found a lot of comfort in during the last part of winter and this early half of spring. I hope you find some comfort in them, too.

Posted in catching up | Leave a comment

catching up – March 2019

Well, guys, we’ve made it to spring. Be proud of yourselves. That was, as they all are, an unending bastard of a winter. But now we have baseball and open windows and sweater weather. I’d say it’s also time to break out the shorts, but I had some on tonight and my daughter took one look at my legs and said ‘daddy acky. go see the doctor.’ So, you know, maybe just continue wearing pants or else my daughter will ruthlessly attack you. Anyways, another VERY GOOD month of music. Here’s what I liked best, as well as a few playlists I put together that you might want to give a little listen to if you’re looking for some new tunes in your life. Enjoy!


“Pasta”- Angie McMahon
As someone whose mother is Italian, I am legally obligated to like this song based solely on the title. That obligation aside, this is one of the finest songs I’ve heard this year, loosely about eating too much pasta, mostly about trying to figure out what you’re doing with your life. Also, the way the song takes off in the second half? I’m very much here for things like that.

“Real Thing”- Middle Kids
The thing about Middle Kids is that they are so damn good, you guys. That’s really all I have for this one. It’s perfect, as their songs tend to be, effortlessly punching you so prettily in your feelings. Also, releasing a new EP a year after dropping your debut album is something I support more bands doing.

“A Thousand Years from Now”- Fort Frances
You guys: this sounds like spring. And along with that spring sound you get some deep stuff to think about and how maybe you should make some updates to your own life, so: bonus baseball. Additionally, it just makes me really happy when my friends release very good songs.

“Satellite”- The Get Up Kids
I said this last year, I know, but I did not expect to be willing to ride hard for a new Get Up Kids song in this, the year 2019. It’s so, so good and anthemic and I can’t get enough of it. That chorus, you guys.

“Tempo”- Lizzo featuring Missy Elliott
YOU GUYS TURN THIS UP AND GET AFTER IT.

“King James”- Anderson .Paak
DO THE SAME FOR THIS ONE.

 

Now, let’s talk about playlists…..

spring2019– Exactly what it sounds like: an ongoing playlist to soundtrack this new season. I’ll keep adding to it for the next few months, so take a listen below and/or click here to listen and follow it on Spotify.

what I liked in March 2019- the 20 best tracks I heard last month. This very easily could have been 30 songs long. Some very, very good songs here, including the return of The National, the best song Josh Ritter has written in a little while, new tunes from Wild Pink and Sun June right after they put out a few of my favorite records of 2018, an absolutely tremendous new one from Jade Bird, another one from Tallest Man on Earth that makes me think he’s writing maybe the best songs of his career, and a song from Caracara that makes me feel 17. So, dig in (or click here to listen/follow on Spotify).

cozy morning- I finally updated this here playlist with 40 songs that will sound real nice with your first 7 cups of coffee in the morning. Wait, we all have 7 cups of coffee in the morning, right? RIGHT? Listen below or click here to listen/follow on Spotify (I’m hoping to update it every month or so. We’ll see, man- that’s a lot to commit to.).

 

Posted in catching up | 1 Comment

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.

 

Posted in catching up | Leave a comment

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).

 

Posted in catching up | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in a note | 5 Comments

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.

 

Posted in catching up | Leave a comment