Just a few of my favorite songs from April-June. Lots of retro-inspired tunes, a few oldies, some knockouts from all-new artists I’m excited to keep exploring.
Nate Ruess, “Great Big Storm” – Of the four singles released before the record, this one’s my favorite. Its arrangement’s a return to the lush world of “Aim and Ignite”, juiced with electronic textures copped from “Some Nights”. And it’s way over the top. I approve.
Nao and A.K. Paul, “So Good” – RIYL Destiny’s Child, Stevie Wonder, How To Dress Well
My Morning Jacket, “Tropics (Erase Traces)” – We’re all still waiting for the follow up to “Z”. And after two fun, but somewhat lacking albums in between, we finally get something to remember. The intro is like the”House of Cards” theme as performed by the Eagles. It’s followed by a series of mystical, journey-like sequences that hit the slow-groove sweet spot in a “No Quarter” kind of way.
Doe Paoro ft. Adam Rhodes, “The Wind” – RIYL James Blake, Bon Iver, The xx
Sufjan Stevens, “Fourth of July” – Not music to relax to. I’ll confess, I’m the kind of Sufjan fan who really just wants to hear “Chicago”. “The Age of Adz” went over my head (or I didn’t give it a chance). Either way, play the old stuff! But this isn’t stuff to play with. Dramatic bass swells below, delicate piano and impossible voices swirl above. Stevens is in the middle, talking to his mom. Listen in.
Lord Huron, “Frozen Pines” – RIYL The Head And The Heart, Roy Orbison, Delta Spirit, awakening ancient curses, Tom Waits
Alabama Shakes, “Guess Who” – Thank goodness for the Alabama Shakes! I was taken by their first album, but not like this new one. It’s dense with noodly bass lines and funk-blues explorations, revealing a surprising range and flexibility. These guys can play anything. Punk, woozy 90s jams, their trademark modern soul, space-oddity funk, anything. Five-star classic, front to back.
Audio (live): https://youtu.be/pw0Xe4LIUp8
Tame Impala, “Cause I’m A Man” – It’s so good. Looks forward, with a long glance back at the 60s. RIYL: The Flaming Lips, The Beatles, Toro Y Moi, Real Estate
Built To Spill, “Living Zoo” – I’m late to the Built To Spill party. They’re a major influence on so many great bands (Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, more). And I’ve heard the name before, but can’t believe I never dug in to their material. Love the tempo change in this jam.
Maybe the worst music video ever: https://youtu.be/0hgRgO5y0f4
Kurt Vile, “KV Crimes” – RIYL: Neil Young, Tom Petty, Smog, Dinosaur Jr.
Maybe the second worst music video ever: https://youtu.be/uGTwH8eCn5o
Mumford & Sons, “Tompkins Square Park” – Ol’ Mumford has gotten some negative reviews on this album. I read the reviews and they’re not wrong. And I was skeptical and still pretty burnt out on Marcus Mumford’s voice. But they can do it without banjos, this song is proof. Do I hope there’s a version with The National’s Matt Berninger going bananas on the last chorus? Kind of.
Music video (live): https://youtu.be/oHzc_DLHztA
Brandi Carlile, “Wilder (We’re Chained”) – Probably number four in my Top 5 Brandi Carlile Songs. Gorgeous. The rest: 5 – That Wasn’t Me, 4 – Wilder (We’re Chained), 3 – Pride and Joy, 2 – Before It Breaks, 1 – My Song
Mae, “The Ocean” – They came to Indy for the 10th anniversary of “The Everglow”. Super good, thanks Erick for inviting me out to see them!
The War on Drugs, “Lost In The Dream” – RIYL: Real Estate, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Strand of Oaks, Tom Petty
The Very Best, “Makes a King” – RIYL: LCD Soundsystem, the music in Starbucks, BLK JKS, MIA, Coldplay
Music video: https://youtu.be/_Dbv6opHCKs