catching up – the end

I’ve thought a lot about how to end this blog over the years, even trying to do so the other year, but it’s never felt like the truly right time. Now, it does. This blog is almost 9 (three weeks from now it would have been, actually), and it’s seen me through so much life and growing up, and, as was pointed out to me this last week, has resulted in it being easier to count the number of friends I have not associated with this thing than it would be to count those that have come into my life because of it. It started in some of my most lost days, helped me through the darkest ones, and saw me out into a new life with a new partner and a growing little family and a contentment I hadn’t known before, all with the same banner image and site layout (partially out of laziness, partially because I never cared enough to learn how to do design things or pay others to do it).

As time has worn on, though, it’s felt less and less like the right place to share things, the expectation in my brain that it was for music, not life, even though the posts that were engaged with the most or made me the least alone or made me feel the most seen were the ones that had very little to do with the music, actually. As this dad thing has become life, and as we get ready to welcome a new baby boy sooner than my brain will allow me to believe,

So, I’m going to close down shop here and start up something fresh for myself, a little newsletter I’m going to call colossal expectations (from a lyric in The Hold Steady’s “Stuck Between Stations” that always lodges itself in my brain). My goal for it is for it to be a place where I’ll hopefully feel/be/etc. a little more comfortable to share things, to talk about being a parent and a partner in real terms, both the good and the hard, and what music is playing in the background and soundtracking it all. If that sounds like something you’d like to read, here’s a link to signup to follow it. I’ll get it going shortly, I promise. And if it’s not, I totally understand.

Now for the logistical stuff: this blog slowly going the way of the buffalo doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop making playlists on Spotify or stop tweeting or stop posting over on Facebook on the blogs page. Those will continue because that’s easy and it’s also how the world works. Anyhow, links to those places are over on the right side of the page, if you want to follow along in one of those places. That should about cover it. I think.

This blog contained my life for 9 years, and I appreciate you being along for it. I’ll see you around, friends.

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catching up – November, December, and 2019/the decade in general

Well, here we are. At the end of a long year. At the end of a long decade. A thing that’s been so interesting as we get to the end of the year, and thus the end of the decade, is being reminded time and again by retrospectives and recaps just how long a decade is. Sure, it’s easy to know that 10 years is a long time, but all these ‘best of the decade’ lists show you that 10 years is actually an eternity.

As such, I’ve spent a lot of time the last few months putting together my own playlist that sort of captures what my decade sounded like. It, too, has reminded me that a decade is forever. It can start in one time zone, with a whole lot of stomping and clapping and sad songs, and end in another, with a lot of synths and dance beats and, sure, sad songs. It can start with you in your mid-20s, aimless professionally, lonely personally, and freshly married, involve that marriage falling apart in the midst of you finally finding your people, and end with you married to a partner you love deeply, a toddler who holds court over your house with her exploding imagination and endless supply of baby dolls, and a baby boy on the way shortly after the new decade starts.

A new decade on the horizon has allowed for a lot of taking stock of just how much can change in 10 years if you let it, if you allow yourself to be open to being uncomfortable and growing, if you don’t give up or settle, if you try. It wasn’t an easy decade, and there are still challenges ahead (such as: how, exactly, do you raise two kids at once and continue to work and live, generally, without exploding from exhaustion? I GUESS WE WILL FIND OUT, YOU GUYS HAHAHAOHNOOOOO), but man does it feel good to look back on and find myself on this end of it all, with all of the friends that have stuck through it all and all of those who I’ve been fortunate enough to bring into my life during it.

Below are a few playlists, including that decade-in-review one I was just yammering about, that I hope you enjoy and which tell the story of this season, these few months, this year and this decade. I’ve spent an inappropriate amount of time working on them, so I hope you enjoy them, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. I’ll see you next year. Enjoy.


the last decade
Well, here it is. It’s a little bloated, sure (it’s 400 songs, man, but I love them all/they are all heaters/WHATEVER I MAKE THE RULES), but it captures all of the songs that played a big role in getting me from 2010 through 2019. I’ve spent a lot of time with this here playlist lately, swimming in the memories and nostalgia, and I’ve got to say: this is one of my favorite playlists I’ve ever made. Also: if you’ve got your own version of this, I would love to listen if you want to share.


the songs I enjoyed listening to the most in 2019
There’s a playlist that has all of the 650+ songs that caught my ear this year, but these are the 92 or so that have really stuck with me. I don’t have a definitive favorite this year for the first time in a long time- you could probably talk me into saying 20-25 of these are, at the moment, my favorite, depending on the day. Also, just so I say it- the record that The Tallest Man on Earth put out this year was my favorite album of 2019. It wasn’t really close.


Honestly, how is it not even officially winter yet? How is that possible? It’s been snowing for more than a month now, cold most every day, all the trees were turning and then they just…died? right in the middle of turning all the good colors? BUT WHY. Anyhow, I gave up on fall a good long while ago, so this winter playlist, full of very soft, cozy tunes, is going strong at over 100 tunes at this point. Dig in, we’ve got a long winter ahead (once it gets here).


what I liked best in November/December 2019
Here are the tracks that I liked best over the last month and a half. There’s a great song about NYE from Lucy Dacus, a song from Dogleg that makes me want to to brash things, a tremendously beautiful new one from Soccer Mommy, a cover of one of the great (almost) lost b-sides from Angie McMahon, a song that will likely destroy you from Eve Owen, a late contender for one of the songs I like most this year from POLICA, Nathaniel Rateliff covering John Prine, which is, you know, FINE, and a song from Swamp Dogg that I can’t stop listening to lately, just to name a few. It had been a really strong year, and this month and a half unexpectedly didn’t disappoint or end the year on a down note.


Christmas (and Christmas-adjacent) Tunes
All my favorite Christmas tunes (and the sad ones that are kinda about Christmas).

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catching up- September and October 2019

This post has been a long time in the making. Honestly, I’ve had it written a few different ways, it’s just always been one of those things as to whether I wanted to hit the Publish button or not.

Summer was not idyllic around here, and, frankly, fall hasn’t exactly been much better. Unrelenting sunshine and heat, sickness we haven’t been able to kick, sleep that was consistent and then became very inconsistent and now is back to maybe being consistent, the early arrival of cold, snowy weather in the middle of my favorite season. It’s all been happening. But so has good stuff. We found out we are having another child, which is as exciting and daunting as the first time around (perhaps moreso, as I was tremendously depressed when we found out we were pregnant with our first, so it’s more exciting this time around, but also this time around I know what we are signing up for and all the work involved, which feels slightly more daunting in that I know instead of am just going in blind/oblivious/unable to comprehend because I don’t have the vocabulary for that kind of life). And now we’ve moved, as we knew we would need to at some point (a toddler has a way of making a house feel very tiny, no mater how small a peanut they seem to be), and we lucked into a beautiful new place that already feels like home despite us only being here a week or so.

All of that’s to say: I’ve been thinking a lot about a line from the title track to the new Cataldo album for the last month and a half, which seems to pretty perfectly outline what’s been on my mind through the ups and downs from the dog days of summer to these no-longer-golden days of fall.

The line goes ‘thought I’d feel different in early-middle age.’

It could be taken as a negative, and certainly it has at times, like the last month in our old place, when my wife or me had to sleep on the couch or bed next to our daughter’s crib because she had suddenly figured out that her amazing little body could pretty easily get up and over the side.

But mainly I’ve been thinking about the line with regard to how ill-equipped I’ve felt to process so much of life as I’ve grown into my mid-30s and parenthood and the marriage I’m in and the life I’m living and the family I continue to stay close to and the friendships I’m lucky enough to have.

It all feels so much better and more complex and like more work than we were lead to believe as we grew up. And that’s fine. It’s not a bad thing. But it’s a thing. It takes work and mindfulness and effort to keep everything in balance, and if you don’t put in all three consistently life starts to spiral and get out of whack, and that’s when it starts to get to be even harder and more work. It takes work- hard work- to be even passingly good at all the different roles you have to fill in your life at any given moment, and if you don’t try someone’s gonna know, whether it’s your partner, your 2 year-old or your mom.

I wasn’t expecting that work. I wasn’t expecting the constant vigilance that’s necessary to keep the train on the tracks in a healthy relationship, or how deep you have to dig in your reserves of energy and patience to show up for your child each day and help ensure they are becoming the best little human they can be (even if that might not include sleeping, at times), or how mindful you have to be to make sure you stay connected with your family and friends in spite of all the work you’re putting in elsewhere.

But I also wasn’t expecting the payoff of it all. I wasn’t aware of the deep joy that can come from watching as your child makes up her first song about something as mundane as taking gummies before bed (and how she keeps making up songs each day about all the other mundane things she does), or the humbling shame that can overtake you when you aren’t your best self in front of them. I wasn’t expecting to continue to be so infatuated and engrossed with the woman I married 6 years on, to the point that all I want to do is hang out with her and make dumb jokes and make her food that she tells me gives her goosebumps. And I wasn’t prepared for how much more deeply I respect the work my parents did to keep me alive/thriving for all those years when, as I’m learning now, it’s a constant battle to do so (and how my sisters have managed to do the same with their kids). And I didn’t know I could find new levels of friendship and respect and comfort with friends as I cross the mid-point of my 30s, but such is finding out the power of uncomfortable vulnerability and openness that runs both ways, it seems.

So, that’s what life has been like as summer has given way to autumn. It’s been good, on the whole, but it’s been work and, for a good bit of it, wholly all-consuming and overwhelming. Such is life, as I’ve found out and continue to be reminded of.

Below are the songs, via a good number of playlists, that have gotten me from the butt-end of summer into the thick of fall. I hope some of at least a few of them resonate with you. Enjoy.

what I liked best in September 2019 and what I liked best in October 2019
A whole mess of very good music came out these last two months, and the two playlists below have everything I liked best, from a new Hiss Golden Messenger song with one of my favorite opening verses of 2019, to that aforementioned Cataldo track, to a Whitney Houston cover from Illuminati Hotties that is ::::chef’s kiss::::, to a new track from Bonny Light Horsemen that’s one of the most beautiful I’ve heard this year, to a lushly sparse new Haim track (I swear, it’s a thing), to the best cover of 2019, courtesy of Joseph. It was a very solid two months of new music, I’d say.


And now, a collection of golden-tinged tunes for a season that never seems to stay golden long enough. I’ve been leaning heavy on these songs, and lines from these songs, as summer gave way to fall and fall is seemingly already starting to give way to winter. Still a month and a half left of this season, somehow, so more to come with this playlist, obviously.


10 years of fall
My very favorite tunes from the last 10 years of fall mixes I’ve been putting together. A whole lot of perfect songs on this here playlist.


the last decade
As we approach the end of the 2010s, it’s worth taking stock of what exactly one listened to during the decade. So, here’s what I’ve put together so far. Haven’t gotten to adding any songs from 2019 just yet, and the other years are all still works in progress, but I love every one of these songs on here. Only rule I used was one song per album (though I stretched that a bit here and there because sometimes there was a single and then a long time and WHATEVER I MAKE MY OWN RULES). Anyhow, a decade is forever, at least 2 or 3 lifetimes, and nothing shows you that quite like revisiting the music that soundtracked it all. I’ll keep tinkering with and adding to/subtracting from this through the rest of the year (and probably early next year, honestly).

Given that we got a total of more than a foot of snow before the calendar even turned to October, gonna just go ahead and share the winter playlist a bit early because maybe it’s winter where you are, or maybe you just need some cozy tunes. Whatever the case, it feels like maybe this winter is gonna be a long one, so I’m starting in early on this one- only spare songs for those short, cold days ahead.


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catching up – July and August 2019

Well, those were months. Ones that happened. And then ended. July and August: Summer’s Twin January’s, as I always say. This summer has been unending and unrelenting and, well, that’s just how it goes sometimes. We had a unicorn of a summer last year in terms of health and weather and pool use and general good times (well, two months of it, at least-  my car got totaled by baseball-sized hail that rained down from the sky last August, so, you know) and this year has been pretty much the exact inverse (there have been many good times, to be clear, but good lord will a constantly sick and/or teething child and a sun that appears to get closer every single day light all of your perspective on fire). Anyhow, despite the fact I have been over summer for a good long while, July and August did provide some very good music, and that’s what this here to talk about, no? Below is what got me through. Enjoy.

Lizzo’s Tiny Desk Concert
The thing about this is that a) it never gets old and b) we could all use more of this type of deep joy in our lives.

Salt- Angie McMahon
Well, Angie McMahon’s debut album didn’t disappoint. It’s a little more subdued and reserved than the singles she released over the last few years would have you anticipate, but it still manages to pack a tremendously hefty punch in all of the quiet moments without any problem. It’s so nice to be surprised, even when your hopes were high to begin with.

“Stay High”- Brittany Howard
Just like “This Feeling” but better in every way. Gimme about a million more like this one, please.

“Anna”- The Menzingers
Not sure that “I have so much to tell ya / please come back to Philadelphia” is supposed to work as well as it does, but here I am, 100+ listens later, thinking that is genius.

good mmorning – Rayland Baxter
Really, truly was not expecting to love an EP of Rayland Baxter (an artist I’ve never gotten into) covering Mac Miller (another artist I’ve never gotten into), but goodness gracious was this EP just what I apparently wanted/needed during the middle of this unending summer. An absolutely wonderful project, through and through.

“Gone” (feat. Christine and the Queens) / “OMG”(with Carly Rae Jepsen)- Gryffin / “Charlie”- Mallrat / “Take Me To The Light” (feat Bon Iver and Kanye West)- Francis and the Lights
Four late summer jamz, just for you. Each of them a heater, through and through. Dance it out.

“Naaem”- Bon Iver
I’m not one of those people who doesn’t understand why people aren’t into the non-sad-dude-in-the-woods version of Bon Iver, but also I really dug 22, a million and this latest record seems like an extension of that, and this is the one that I keep coming back to.

basking in the glow – Oso Oso
One of the very finest records I’ve heard this year, released right at the point in the year when I needed it most and it would sound the best.

Like the River Loves the Sea – Joan Shelley
This will come as absolutely no surprise, but good lord is this new Joan Shelley record lovely in every single way.

I’ll show you stronger – pronoun
And then, out of nowhere, a record seemingly tailor-made for late-summer heat and changing light and finally, after so long, being able to open the windows from time to time.

“Southern Sky”- (Sandy) Alex G / “Green and Golden”- Luray
These two sound like suddenly cooler, slower mornings and those late-summer kaleidoscope sunsets creeping towards 8pm.


….and now, let’s talk about (A WHOLE MESS OF) playlists, shall we?

what I liked best in July 2019 / what I liked best in August 2019
Pretty straightforward- here are all the songs I liked the last few months, in convenient playlists for you to make your way through and, hopefully, discover something new to love. There was a lot of new music to love these last few months, you guys.


summertime2019 / quiet summer
One last time, here are the two summer playlists I’ve been keeping going all summer long, almost 300 songs in total.


2019summer(days) / 2019summer(drive) / 2019summer(nights)
Like the old days, I put together a some summer mixes that fit the days, nights, and long drives of summertime. It was a fun little project, and I think each of them turned out really well and flows as well as those mixes I used to spend so much time making.


10 years of fall
Just like summer, here’s a retrospective playlist of the last 10 years of fall mixes that I’ve been making. This year’s fall playlist will go live next week. This will get you ready. Enjoy.

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catching up – June 2019

Well, you guys, I think it’s finally officially summer. How’s everyone enjoying the constant sweat and trying to think over the sound of air conditioning and trying to find that right balance between ‘this is an excessive amount of sunscreen’ and ‘oh god I am sunburned to the point it’s starting to bubble’? IT’S FUN, HUH. I kid. Kind of. Anyways, welcome to summer, where there’s a lot of good music coming out and I’m apparently just going to make 9827089762039487 playlists. Alright, let’s chat about the good musics.

“Rides Through The Morning”- Michael Nau
In a month of a bunch of new songs I could say were among my favorite of the year, this finally-released old tune might be my favorite. All grit and soul and timeless feel, this one is a burner that builds and breaks and goes and goes and goes for just over 4 minutes. More like this, please, everyone.

“Not My Body”- Sam Lynch
Another in that group of songs that are now among my favorite of the year, this latest offering from Sam Lynch establishes what it is and then constantly reinvents itself with each verse for the rest of the song. It’s tremendously beautiful in every single way.

“Coming Down For You”- Joan Shelley
I’ve mentioned this before, but Joan Shelley is the most lovely voice out there right now. This new love song from her is no different, as you’d expect.

“I Need A Teacher”- Hiss Golden Messenger
Is “beauty in the broken American moment” my favorite line of the year so far? It’s close, you guys. No one is in the kind of groove Hiss is right now.

“Settle Down”- The Local Strangers
My friends put out a new record and it’s lovely and easily the best album they’ve put together and goodness gracious this song and the way it builds to the payoff in the final minute is just :::chef’s kiss:::.

“Fire”- Bad Flamingo
I’m sorry. We’re all pregnant now. That’s how bodies work when this song plays, I think.

…and now, here’s a playlist of all the songs I liked best in June. I usually try to keep this to 20 or whatever, but this month there was so much good stuff I couldn’t help myself. All the tunes above are on there, but so is the return from Bon Iver, songs from Jaysom, Hatchie, Steve Gunn, and Whitney I can’t stop getting lost in, the best song on that new collaborative album from Calexico and Iron & Wine, a new one form Leif Vollebekk that reminds me I can’t get enough of his sound, the first new single from Joe Pug in too many years that also, somehow, namedrops my hometown, and, well, a re-working of a Dashboard Confessional tune that features Adam Duritz and which I for sure had forgotten how much I loved. Oh, and a whole bunch more. Dig in. There’s a lot to love and discover.

cool cool cool, let’s talk about other playlists now cause I have a lot of them to tell you about.

The Kitchen
Let’s start off with one of my favorite playlist projects lately, and that’s the one that my friend Shana at Swell Tone asked me to make to soundtrack my time cooking in the kitchen with my daughter. I won’t repeat what I wrote for her blog, but I will say that making muffins with Frances is one of the few things I miss about unemployment, because a) she loved it (and by that I mean she mostly just couldn’t wait to eat them) and b) as someone who loves cooking and food, there’s little I want to do more in my life than impart a love of food in that little human, and if I can do that by creating a healthy association between food and dancing in the kitchen I will for sure do that. Anyhow, here’s the playlist Shana and I came up with. I for sure am the reason Lizzo is on there.

quiet summer
I went ahead and created a summer playlist that isn’t all jamz, cause summer isn’t all jamz, kids. Anyways, I’ll be adding to this one through the rest of summer, so go ahead and follow it if you’d like.

….but sometimes summer IS jamz, so there’s this playlist, which I’m still adding to and will keep adding to for the rest of summer.

10 years of summer – mornings, days and nights
One of my friends from back home alerted me that I’ve been making summer mixes for the last 10 years (they used to be mailed to friends, complete with printed cd labels and tracklists and all that and OH GOD THAT WAS SO MUCH WORK BEING A YOUNGER PERSON WAS JUST SO DUMB). So, armed with that information, I put together 3 playlists full of my favorite tracks that have appeared on any of those summer mixes over the years. It was a lot of fun, and good lord are these some stacked playlists.

my very favorite songs of 2019 so far
Well, we all made it to the halfway point, and so I figured I’d join the masses in making a playlist like this. I’ve got about 5 favorite songs of the year at any one time- right now it’s a fight between songs from Spanish Love Songs, Sun June, Rosie Tucker and Michael Nau, I think, but that could change if you asked me tomorrow. Anyways, here’s a playlist- in no particular order- of the 30-whatever songs I’ve loved the most so far this year.


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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.

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.

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.


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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.

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.

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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

“King James”- Anderson .Paak


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.).


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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.

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:

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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