catching up

Less talk, more tunes.

‘Homecoming’- Josh Ritter
Won’t pretend otherwise: this is very likely my favorite song I’ve heard so far this year, a gorgeous, made-for-autumn tune, one that feels a bit like a continuation of the story being told in ‘Thunder Road,’ as my friend Jeff put it. The world is lucky to have Josh Ritter writing songs in it.

‘On The Nights You Stay Home’- Donovan Woods
There’s a new album on the way from Donovan Woods, you guys. Get your cardigan on and get ready to get sad. (I can’t wait.)

‘To Make It True’- Daniel Martin Moore
Daniel Martin Moore has a new album coming out next week. I listened to it all day today. It is absolutely tremendous.

‘Brittle Boned’- Julien Baker
Like Sharon Van Etten, but more heartbreaking. I love it.

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fall2015 – a mix

I feel a change in the weather. I feel a change in me.

I’ve been waiting impatiently for fall to get here, to finally have a reason to put on one of the unnecessary number of hoodies I have in my closet, to open the windows and drink coffee under the blankets, to turn off the damn air conditioner unit protruding from the window, to drink that delicious dark beer again. This is a mix for those days that are finally (almost, pretty much) here. It’s a mix for changing light, changing trees and changing temperatures. It’s a mix to soundtrack the best season. It’s a mix I hope you enjoy very much.

(listen above or click here to listen on 8tracks / click here to listen on Spotify)

  1. Homecoming- Josh Ritter
    2. Never Been A Captain- The Barr Brothers
    3. Wasting Time- Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
    4. On The Banks Of The Old Kishwaukee- Ryley Walker
    5. Nashville- Tyler Lyle
    6. Flagship- Jason Isbell
    7. Hold You Like A Harness- Hip Hatchet
    8. 16, Maybe Less- Iron & Wine and Calexico
    9. Lantern- Covenhoven
    10. Amsterdam- Gregory Alan Isakov
    11. In The Dark- Ryan Adams
    12. Over And Even- Joan Shelley
    13. These Are The Mountains Moving (Unplugged)- Fort Frances
    14. Marigolden- Field Report
    15. Something- Julien Baker
    16. Blossom- Noah Gundersen
    17. The Birds Are Singing At Night- Lord Huron
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Monday Links

On Twitter and Facebook I share links each day to various stuff that I think is great and/or worth people’s time. But not everyone that comes here is on Twitter or Facebook, so I gather up the best of those links each Monday and post them here so everyone can get in on the fun. If you’ve missed any of the past Monday Links (or just want to waste some time), check out the archive here.

Chvrches covering Justin Beiber is… kind of great? Yes, that.

New idea: every band goes into the Moog Sound Lab.

Little May’s ‘Seven Hours’: just as lovely plugged in as it is acoustic.

Had forgotten how much I loved this tune from The Bronze Medal.

Joan Shelley doing a Tiny Desk Concert is the best way you could possibly spend your next 12 minutes.

Here’s what I’ve been listening to this last month (click here to listen on Soundcloud). Enjoy.

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catching up

We should talk about some very good things you need to listen to, guys and girls.

‘Lantern’- Covenhoven
Pretty simple, kids: this is one of the most gorgeous tunes I’ve heard in 2015. Also: this should be on every fall mix people make. It sounds like golden hours and turning trees and crisp mornings.

‘Calvander’- Mount Moriah
A tremendous, slyly soulful rocker, this one.

‘Nevada City’- John Heart Jackie
Pretty much the perfect song for this time right now, when summer is officially over but it’s still real hot in the middle of the day. Dreamy and altogether lovely.

‘Push and Pull (All The Time)’- Promised Land Sound
You very much need this song, a car and a couple hours to wander around.

‘Weak’- Wet
Gonna go ahead and declare myself all in on Wet. I think they are going to be huge once that album of theirs finally sees the light of day.

‘The Dream’- Dana Falconberry with Some Say Leland
Because sometimes a meandering, dreamy 7 plus minutes sounds like maybe 3 (or maybe 20, in a good way).

‘Hold Light’- Lemolo
Very, very happy there is new Lemolo in our life. This anxious, driving tune does nothing but make me more impatient for that new album.

‘Style’ / ‘Out Of The Woods’ (Taylor Swift covers)- Ryan Adams
I have a whole lot of thoughts about this Ryan Adams covers album (and the reaction to it), but it all boils down to this, really: these are really good songs at their core, and sometimes Ryan makes them something even greater, teasing out an affecting depth that maybe wasn’t evident the first time around. These are my two favorite tracks on it. Enjoy.

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summer2015 : a recap in mixes

Summer is officially over in a few days, so I thought I’d go ahead and shine a light one more time on all the mixes I made over the course of what became a long, unrelenting season. Enjoy (again)!

summer(days) 2015 (original post) (listen on 8tracks)

summer(nights)2015 (original post) (listen on 8tracks)

burnt (original post) (listen on 8tracks)

meet me in the city. (original post) (listen on 8tracks)

I wanna be somewhere different every day. (original post) (listen on Soundcloud)

Or hey, how about a Spotify playlist with all of the songs on it? (listen on Spotify)

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catching up

It’s been a long time, you guys. We need to talk about tunes.

‘Clearest Blue’- Chvrches
Jam. City.

‘As Time Goes’- Jr Jr
This one also firmly resides in Jam City.

‘Break Bones’- Wild Child
This is all sorts of lovely and gorgeous.

‘Clean’- The Japanese House
This is what this last push of summer sounds like: all dreamy, hazy, fading beauty.

‘The Birds Are Singing At Night’- Lord Huron
This sounds like every other Lord Huron song, which is to say it’s gorgeous and perfect.

‘Young & Alive’- Beach Slang
Well, I guess if we aren’t going to be getting a new Japandroids album anytime soon at least we have something as loud and catchy and brash and tremendous as this new Beach Slang to hold us over.

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An Emotional 1989: A comprehensive look at Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion and Taylor Swift’s 1989

If you’ve hung around here for any amount of time at all you know that I love pop music almost as much as I love sad bastard music. If you’ve run into me at any point over the last month or so and the topic of pop music has come up I’ve very likely gone on and on about how great the new Carly Rae Jepsen album is (and how it might be better than 1989). My good friend Courtney Allen heard me talk about such things, but took it all a step farther (and in a more awesome direction, obviously) and wrote down her feelings about how E*MO*TION and 1989 compare. Here are those thoughts she was nice enough to write down and share. You will very much enjoy them.

A few weeks ago, Carly Rae Jepsen quietly released her sophomore album, Emotion. It immediately earned comparisons to Taylor Swift’s 1989, and for those paying attention, it caused several arguments as to whether it was better than 1989. Both 80s inspired pop albums, it’s easy to see where this conversation got started.

Overall, both albums touch on similar themes and emotions. Where they contrast tends to come in terms of perspective, Swift often approaches these stories of love and lust from the past, with a jaded view of what happened. Jepsen looks at them in the moment, with a seemingly more optimistic tone.  We’ll take a look at a few of their songs side by side:

Blank Space vs. Black Heart

Both upbeat tracks about a failed romance, Swift and Jepsen approach their ‘over it’ vibe differently. “In your black heart is where you’ll find me, cutting through the cracks of the concrete,” Jepsen sings on the chorus. Swift chimes in with a crooked grin, “you can tell me when it’s over, if the high was worth the pain.” Swift looks at love as a game, whereas Jepsen looks at it as a show.

Style vs. Run Away With Me

Both songs mention headlights, streetlights and driving all night but offer two different takes on the story. Swift’s take hits on the spontaneity, but she seems a bit more cognizant of where this story is inevitably headed. Meanwhile Jepsen is up for the spontaneous but is excited about falling for someone, and doing so quickly.

Wildest Dreams vs. Gimmie Love

The two dreamiest songs on both albums, these tracks hit on bittersweet love lost. Both admit to potentially wanting too much, but also speak to keeping that person in mind long after they’re worthy of the holding onto the memories.

Out of the Woods vs. When I Needed You

These two songs  approach what each party did wrong, or what they failed to notice from the beginning. Swift’s take focuses on thoughts, “looking at it now, it all seemed so simple.” The only breakup song on Emotion, Jepsen utilizes dreams, “what if we could go back, we could take the words back, you could take my love back.”

You Are In Love vs. Favourite Colour

Two sugary sweet ballads, both tracks focus being in love. Swift focuses on the senses, “you can hear it in the silence, you can see it with the lights out.” And Jepsen focuses on closeness, “When I am close to you, I blend into, my favorite colour.”

It’s interesting that for two 80s inspired dance albums, neither Swift nor Jepsen really manage to sell themselves as partying, club-goers. Jepsen has a few songs on her album that try to make it work. Maybe it’s her call-me-maybe history and maybe it’s her Rainbow-Bright-inspired album cover. But I’m not buying it. And even though I Didn’t Just Come Here to Dance is one of the best dance tracks on the album, I can’t imagine a world where Jepsen is brushing off Tino and ‘Hey Joe’ at the club. Taylor has never really wandered into this realm, but she also doesn’t need to be quite as obvious to make her music a total upbeat dance jam.

Both albums have a few outliers. Swift’s switches between upbeat revenge anthems and confident dance tracks to wispy love songs to moody ballads. But Jepsen’s album on a whole is much more comprehensive.

The real difference, and where Swift vastly outperforms Jepsen, is in songwriting and storytelling. Jepsens’ work never really goes deeper than surface level. Swift excels at the stories behind the songs with her lyrics telling of getting stitches in the hospital room, headlights shining through her bedroom window and houseplants that were collateral damage in a breakup. Jepsen’s choruses stay fairly vague, and the verses don’t go into much more detail either.

Overall, if we’re choosing the most comprehensive 80s pop dance album it’s clearly Jepsen’s Emotion. But it’s hard to say Swift lost at a game she never entered as I don’t believe both set out with the same goal in mind. For the stronger songwriter, the winner will always be Swift. The losers? Those who are embarrassed to listen to either.

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