Spotify playlist: http://open.spotify.com/user/karlward/playlist/0WfqHQ8I40AuDJlst3NUkD
1. “Yours Truly, The Commuter” - Jason Lytle. KW: Is rap dead? Is rock? Is punk? David Berman has a great line: “Punk rock died when the first kid said / ‘Punk’s not dead! Punk’s not dead!’” So I wanna hear that new shit. Whatever new means. New might mean it still sounds incredibly fresh. Or it might mean people are all of a sudden getting into 1980s Saudi punk rock bands, which are actually really cool, if they really exist. I’m torn between kicking this off with “Losing My Edge” (thematically correct, new to me, but old) and “Give it Up” (new to me, a little old, quite fresh). But I’m going to drop Jason Lytle’s return to form after he gave up on Grandaddy to take a long break from music. I _love_ this track. It was the soundtrack to my dystopian commuter nightmare trying to get to/from NYC after Hurricane Sandy.
2. "Tell Your Heart Heads Up" - MUTEMATH. JW: this is gonna be an interesting one, identifying "new". I'll start with this one. It's 2011-new, which is new enough for me. I got it from my buddy Josh who I get most of my new music from. This is a sing loud in your car song, like 'Don't Tou Worry 'Bout A Thing', or a strut down the sidewalk song like '20th Century Boy'. I looked up the band and couldn't really get into any other songs. But maybe that's another playlist.
3. “Twisted” - Wild Belle. KW: I don’t know anything about this group. I imagine though, that MUTEMATH is a bunch of dudes looking really intense, riffing, sweating. Wild Belle might be some sort of weird opposite to that, a girl and some guys trying to look laid back while they’re probably working really hard. Anyway, this track came to me from one of my friends who is a major source of new music finds for me. This track kept coming on while I was listening to a playlist we collaborate on and each time I was like “hey, who is that, that is cool.” NEWZ. NEWZ GINGRICH.
4. “Stuck Together Pieces” - Atoms For Peace. JW: I’ve been waiting a long time for this new music. I once downloaded a FLAC file of their unannounced show at Roseland. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what the flac to do with it. In a recently interesting/weird interview with Alec Baldwin, Thom Yorke talks about how his solo album Eraser was made entirely on the computer, and that he wondered what breaking it down into playable parts would be like live. And thus Atoms For Peace was born. I think it is exactly like what he says it is. Not quite Radiohead, tastefully similar to Eraser, but different. Did you know Radiohead has been playing together since they were 16? KW: Yes. I knew AMOK was going to make it into this list, one way or another. I’ve been jamming out to it quite a bit. I liked Eraser a lot but I haven’t listened to it much in a couple years, I need to get back to that.
5. “Retarded Fren” - DOOM with Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood. KW: I want to hear more hip hop with Radiohead’s Glimmer Twins at the decks. I also want MF Doom to do more weirdo collaborations--I mean, that Danger Doom record was the best. Everybody knows this.
6. “Rock Beast” - CZARFACE. JW: "I’m a super villain, call me Ra’s al Ghul." This marks the first time that Spotify suggested new music to me that I got excited about. I think Inspektah Deck is one of the top rap lyricists of all time. And I'll begin the Statler and Waldorfing now. They don't make rap music the way they used to. But Czarface feels like a natural continuation of the late late 90's rap that was good. So, you hear that kids? Keep making music like they used to.
7. “Still Diggin Wit Buck” - R.A. the Rugged Man. KW: I couldn’t find a recent Nas track I like. I looked pretty hard. I looked around for something new from someone else I liked back in the day, and settled on this. I say settled because I really like it, but it is an intro track, and the album just doesn’t live up to its own intro. But here’s one for thematic consistency, talking about something new while maintaining an obsession with how it used to be done.
8. “Intro” - Talib Kweli. JW: I too, find myself looking for new albums from older artists. It’s apparently a weird time for new music. This track is also an intro (no shit). But it’s a great example of Talib Kweli not only staying current, but being current by caring about the things that are happening in real time. He’s always been on point with social issues, so it was no surprise when he came down to Zuccotti and spoke on the People’s Mic.
9. “The Jolly Banker” - Wilco. KW: I thought this was recorded back in 1998 during the Mermaid Avenue sessions, but I looked around just now and found out it was done in 2009. I got so excited when I first heard this on the new Mermaid Avenue volume 3--new Mermaid Avenue tracks! Volumes one and two were huge for me, major listening while I was driving all over the country to write songs ten years ago. This is an incredible song, a straight cover that should double you over given the times.
10. “State of the Art - A.E.I.O.U.” - Jim James. JW: Like Thom Yorke, it’s the solo work that I find really interesting. How does it “sound like” MMJ, or Radiohead or the Beatles, but not the same? When you sit with it you see that it’s what they bring to the band, that same thing that they apply to their own stuff. But what the difference is, becomes whatever the band and producer bring to the albums/songwriter. I think this applies even/especially when the band’s brand is primarily defined by this solo artist’s style. To what degree did George Harrison’s solo albums work? McCartney? What about Corey Glover and Chris Cornell?
11. “Valedictorian” - Dan Friel. KW: I never really got into Parts & Labor, Dan Friel’s long running Brooklyn noise band. But when I heard Total Folklore I was all over it. You can really hear Friel’s musical spirit that was always present in Parts & Labor, but it’s way out front on his solo stuff and it’s fantastic. Maybe it’s the lack of lyrics that makes it work so much better. Anyway, I’ve been into My Morning Jacket for a while now, and I remember when I first realized that their lyrics sound better than they are. When they’re good, they’re good, but don’t go looking deep into the lyrics hoping to find any great wisdom. There are a few exceptions (“His Master’s Voice” on Monsters of Folk for example).
12. “Goatman” - Goat. JW: Yes, sometimes lyrics can get in the way. I heard this song recently, and my rock bone started shaking. It’s new, right? But it sounds like Rare Earth, Deep Purple and Funkadelic on HGH. This is a theme that I think should be investigated. The new music that is referencing the 70’s so heavily is interesting. This has been mounting for years in bands like Celebration and Phosphorescent. Even in radio bands like Wolfmother and to a weaker extent, The Darkness. But it feels now like bands are making music that would transport them back to the era when that sound was happening rather than using classic rock as an influence.
13a. “Bad Bad Love” - Alex Ebert. KW: Everything I’ve ever read about Alex Ebert mentions how he is going for this Laurel Canyon thing in his work. I can hear that. And I’ve been dismissive of the sort of retro commune sixties thing (e.g. Devendra Banhart) that has been flickering in and out of style for the last few years. But then I heard the record Alexander which I really like, and before that, I heard a few of the really great Devendra Banhart songs from What Will We Be, so I’m going to give it all another chance. So just like I can imagine a bunch of people rallying around the campfire / drum circle / Burning Man / burn the man to sing and drum out “Goatman,” that’s what’s going on in the chorus of “Bad Bad Love.” But also, it sounds like Zappa’s doo wop fixation mixed with some of the fuzzed out Sixties folk rock, made at a time (“She asked what d’ya need? / I asked her what d’ya bleed?”) when Dylan’s influence was fresh and flowing hard into everything. I just realized Banhart has a new album.
(Apparently last night was the last night that you could listen to any of Alex Ebert’s work on Spotify, because it’s all gone now. So...)
13b. “Won’t You Come Over” - Devendra Banhart. Devendra Banhart makes the kind of music that the record machine was willing to throw a few thousand dollars at back in the seventies, even if that music was weird as a lavender-colored Hell and had no chance of running up the charts. About a year ago I listened to all of Banhart’s discography in order, and didn’t really get into any of it until I got to What Will We Be. Mala is brand new. It’s got some jams on it, like this one. Not the kind of thing that’s going to burn up your charts, but put it on. Maybe fill up the teapot and make some yerba mate. Call that girl that you met at the Zappa gig. Ask her if she wants to see Zeppelin with you next week.
14. "Strictly 4 My Jeeps" - Action Bronson. JW: Here's another love song. Lotsa albums dropping this year. But you're not going to see me push them here. I guess there's just two types of people in the world: Those who think Lil Wayne is the second coming of hip hop. And me. Also as this has been a weird, funky month and list, I just wanted to get some Bronsalino in there before the buzzer.
15. “Kontrol Phreak” - Lyrics Born. KW: And here’s a track I’ve been waiting to drop. Lyrics Born went early 80s on this track. It’s wildly different than his jams back in the day with Latyrx and Quannum, but he’s always trying to stay close to the boundaries. It doesn’t always work, but it works on this track.
16. “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” - Father John Misty. JW: Big shout out goes to Christina Carter for turning me on to this fellow. You can judge a band by its name (Color Me Badd, Prussian Blue, Goo Goo Dolls) but if you don’t give it a listen, you might miss out on something special (Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age, Mr. Bungle). In fact, this is the message I’d like to leave you with this month. One of the most resilient clichés is “don’t judge a book by its cover.” And that’s because even when gambling on new things bites you in the ass, it’s generally worth the experience. Go make experiences.