The Fortnightly Playlist, November 10th, 2019

Well, it’s on the late side this time, and I haven’t written anything. I’ve especially been enjoying the new music from Michael Kiwanuka, Kele, Sudan Archives, Sturgill Simpson, SONS, and Danny Brown. I’m going to just keep it short and sweet this edition, and just leave you with the music.


Kele – Cyril’s Blood
Sudan Archives – Limitless
Michael Kiwanuka – Hero
Automatic – Signal
Rudy Willingham – Do Your Thing
DJ shadow – Rosie
Brother Ali – Father Figures
Chance the Rapper – Town on a Hill
Sudan Archives – Iceland Moss
Danny Brown, Blood Orange – Shine
Sturgill Simpson – Sing Along
SONS – Ricochet
Lemolo – Rogue Wave
Tinariwen – Wartilla
Habib Koite – Ivazi
The Cave Singers – Take Care
Mikal Cronin – On The Shelf
Angel Olsen – New Love Cassette
Futurebirds – Waiting On a Call
The Foo Fighters – Spill

The Fortnightly Playlist,October 27th, 2019

This week I’ve happened to run afoul of highly-dedicated fans of both Lady Gaga and Kanye West on Twitter. I just happen to think that some of those big artists are more about hype and money than about art, and some fans take that personally I guess. That said, I don’t think much of Lady Gaga tweeting that “fame is prison” or Kanye spouting ignorant political statements for attention while proudly being off his meds. I think there are plenty of artists that don’t get the attention they deserve. It’s why you will from time to time see a big popstar included here, but only if I think highly of the music. This edition includes new singles from Michael Kiwanuka, Broken Bells, Julien Baker, Sudan Archives, Steve Mason, Wolf Parade, and Steve Gunn, a new collaboration from Sera Cahoone and Tomo Nakayama, and new albums from Neil Young, Joseph Arthur and Son Volt.

She’s been releasing some of my favorite music of the past couple years, so let’s talk Sudan Archives. We’re finally about to get her first full-length album after a pair of fantastic EPs from violinist and vocalist, Brittney Parks. Her Avant-garde violin playing, R&B groove, beautifully layered loops, and subtle yet powerful messaging give us a catchy and accessible sound with plenty of rewards to repeated listening. It’s complex and layered while still sounding sparse and open. I first heard “Wake Up” on the radio, and I found myself listing to her self-titled debut EP on repeat. In her singles and EP’s, every single track has been excellent, and if she can do this in the full album format then this will be among the best of the year without a doubt. If you aren’t familiar, then I highly recommend listening to Sudan Archives (2017), and Sink (2018). The new album, Athena, is out November 1st.

Neil Young has reunited with Crazy Horse after a 7-year break. It’s all got the the feel that you want and expect from a Neil Young & Crazy Horse record, but this is a group that you would never make a something for the feel-good nostalgia of it. Young is still very presen-minded and in-touch in his writing. In the band’s typical raw sound, the record blasts an impassioned environmentalist message directly and unapologetically. Neil and Crazy Horse remain consistent in their desire for a real and raw sound. You won’t find the auto-tune or polished production here. This record sounds like it would if they played it live. There’s a balance here that maybe goes under-appreciated. Keeping that missed note on a solo or that bit where the background vocals were out of sync rather than re-recording another take, but also not making a record that sounds like a jumbled mess. There are fine lines to walk, and some will find that truthful sound a bit uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s for those who appreciate that little crackle of an old record. Personally, I think they balance pretty well on that tightrope as they maybe lean a bit one way or the other at different points.

Some particular favorites of mine this edition include L’Orange & Jeremiah Jae, Sudan Archives, Sera Cahoone & Tomo Nakayama, Son Volt, and Steve Gunn.


Michael Kiwanuka – You Ain’t The Problem
Broken Bells – Good Luck
Steve Mason – Like a Ripple
Julien Baker – Tokyo
Lucy Dacus – Dancing in the Dark
Son Volt – Broadsides
Steve Gunn – Be Still Moon
Low Roar – Darkest Hour
Jesca Hoop – Outside of Eden (feat. Kate Stables & Justis)
Buscabullo – Vamona
Renata Flores – Qam Hina
Sara Hebe – Urgente
L’Orange, Jeremiah Jae – Clay Pigeons (feat. billy woods)
Kim Gordon – Paprika Pony
Sufjan Stevens, Timo Andres – IV
Sudan Archives – Glorious
Beck – Uneventful Days
Of Monsters and Men – Vulture, Vulture
Wolf Parade – Against the Day
Joseph Arthur – I’ll Be Around
Sera Cahoone, Tomo Nakayama – Crows
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – She Showed Me Love

The Fortnightly Playlist, October 13th, 2019

What am I most excited about in music right now? Typically, I just pick 2 or 3 to write about a little more, and leave it to the music to speak for itself. There’s a lot here, and there’s a lot to say. New Lemolo, Angel Olsen, Wilco, L’Orange, and Danny Brown albums, and new singles from DJ Shadow, Kele, Songhoy Blues, and HOLY.

I’ll start here. This week, as I was driving, I heard the new single from Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke. Now he released an album under his full name earlier this year already, but now is set to release another under his other moniker, Kele. This single, which I chose as the opener for this edition of the playlist, hit me instantly. It’s a 6-minute epic, but I was ready to listen again as soon as it was done. If this is what is in store for his next release, then I’m all in on it. It’s due out on November 1st, so more to come soon!

As I was building this list, I started thinking on country vocalists. I don’t think there’s a better male country vocalist currently than Jay Farrar of Son Volt, and, as no one who reads this blog will be surprised to hear, I would swear that Brandi Carlile is the best female country vocalist working today. I tend to steer away from making “the best” statements, and try to focus on my own favorites and what I connect with. I don’t think it is possible to really stay objective or even consistent on things like this. On this I’ll stand though, I think Jay Farrar and Brandi Carlile are the best, and this edition I’ve put them right next to each other in the playlist to try and highlight this.

L’Orange. Okay, so I came in late on this North Carolina beatmaker. Last year his album with Solemn Brigham, Marlowe, ranked as my 3rd favorite album of the year, and I’ve been filling myself in a bit on his back catalogue (both solo, and his collaborations with different rappers). He’s built his reputation sampling early jazz records and vintage radio broadcasts, and this new album with Jeremiah Jae is another beauty. L’Orange tends to make his albums as a genre of film. Marlowe was a crime drama that had a dry wit to it, and Complicate Your Life With Violence is like a war movie with apocalyptic tones. So far, the track that has stood out most to me, and which I’ve included here, is “Cool Hand” with multiple samples of Elmore James’ classic “Anna Lee”. I don’t know of another DJ out there sampling the way that L’Orange does, and creating a cinematic story in the same way. Listening to a L’Orange record is like listening to a radio-drama.

Are we halfway through October? What albums are your favorites so far this year?

Kele – Between Me and My Maker
Temples – The Howl
Songhoy Blues – Meet Me In The City
Brittany Howard – 13th Century Metal
Great Grandpa – Mono no Aware
HOLY – You shine on me (feat. Boys)
Lemolo – Heart to Hand
Angel Olsen – Impasse
Wilco – One and a Half Stars
Kurt Vile, The Sadies – Baby’s Arms
Son Volt – Holding Your Own
The Highwomen – Wheels of Laredo
Hiss Golden Messenger – Bright Direction (You’re a Dark Star Now)
Just Mustard – Seven
Ex Hex – Rainbow Shiner
Death Valley Girls – Dream Cleaver
Sheer Mag – Blood from a Stone
Mikal Cronin – Shelter
Sault – Living In America
L’Orange, Jeremiah Jae, Chester Watson – Cool Hand
Danny Brown – Change Up
DJ Shadow – Urgent, Important, Please Read (feat. Rockwell, Knuckles, Tef Poe, Daemon)

The Fortnightly Playlist, September 29th, 2019

Spotify recommends that I add Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, John Mayer, and OneRepublic to this playlist based on the songs I have selected. This is a clear example of why not to trust robots. I’m not sure how the robots think those artists fit with Sampa the Great, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The HU, or clipping. I have my suspicions of their algorithm.

The New Pornographers have been something of a constant for my musical tastes in the last 12 years or so. There has been changes to the group from record to record, but I don’t think any fans will complain about having an album that includes a bit more Neko Case than has often been the case before. It’s possible that this is the best record for some of the strongest aspects of the group. The singable melodies, the upbeat hooks, and the blending of all the vocalists are some of the reasons I’ve followed the band all this time. The 3 singles that came out before the record are all among the strongest tracks, and “Higher Beams”, “Leather On The Seat”, and “You’ll Need a New Backseat Driver” also stand out to me right away.

Blending Jazz, Soul, and Hip-Hop, Sampa the Great’s new album, The Return, has immediately landed high on my list for the year. She was born in Zambia, raised in Botswana, and is now based in Melbourne, Australia. The variety of influences comes through as well, yet they blend so well into a cohesive project. To top it all off, the album is chock full of solid guest contributions from artists I never knew before which, I aniticipate, will lead to more discoveries. The Motown groove of “Freedom”, the Hip-Hop swagger of “Final Form”, the dreamy trap beat, swelling strings, and psychadelic guitars of “The Return”, the Jazz-groove of “Dare to Fly”… this album takes you everywhere. How many albums of the year am I allowed to have?

Other favorites this edition are Brittany Howard, clipping., Raphael Saadiq, and The Highwomen.

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Raphael Saadiq – Sinners Prayer
Sampa the Great, Ecca Vandal – Dare to Fly
Rapsody – Myrlie
Somos Guerreras – Hip Hop Don’t Stop
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Eme Alfonso – Keep Your Head Up
Brittany Howard – Goat Head
Dessa, Minnesota Orchestra – Call Off Your Ghost (Live)
Lemolo – South of Sound
The New Pornographers – Higher Beams
Neal Francis – This Time
The Highwomen – Crowded Table
Death Cab For Cutie – Before The Bombs
Ceremony – In The Spirit World Now
The HU – Shoog Shoog
 clipping. – Nothing is Safe
Shredders – Shadap You Face, Pt. II
Temples – Context
Foals – Into the Surf
The Highwomen – If She Ever Leaves Me
The New Pornographers – One Kind of Solomon

The Fortnightly Playlist, September 15th, 2019

It’s been a dizzying week. At least we’ve got some new music here to make balance things out. This edition of the list is quite a globetrotter with artists from Ethiopia, Sweden, Australia, Mexico, Mongolia and Brazil all represented.

Brittany Howard’s upcoming album is one I’m certainly excited for. Her soulful voice has been central to the success of Alabama Shakes, and she’s no mediocre guitarist either. So far, the new material suggests that this new solo record will have an impressive diversity in sound. Each of the new songs released so far is very different, and I’m wildly curious how she’ll bring it all together in the album.

A record already out that I’ve been wildly impressed by in recent weeks is Eve by Rapsody. Admittedly, I’m not very familiar with her full catalog, and I’m slowly filling myself in on her decade or so of music. Included with this edition is a song that features a rapper I feel doesn’t get the full credit she deserves; Queen Latifah. Eve is a work dedicated to Rapsody’s heroines. Each of the 16 tracks named for Nina Simone, Sojourner Truth, Serena Williams, Michelle Obama, Afeni Shakur, Maya Angelou and others.

Other favorites here are The HU, Angel Olsen, Bow Thayer, Jenny & The Mexicats, and Temples.


Rapsody – Hatshepsut
Brittany Howard – Stay High
Beau Williams, The HamilTones – God Kept Me
Jenny & The Mexicats, Vetusta Morla – El Telon
Liniker e os Caramelows – Lava
HOLY – Hot On The Heels Of Love
Temples – You’re Either On Something
Jay Som – Tenderness
Lumineers – Salt and the Sea
Bow Thayer – Al’s Solution
The Highwomen – My Only Child
Angel Olsen – Lark
Sleater-Kinney – The Future is Here
The Hu – Wolf Totem
Ethiopian Records, Meklit – This Was Made Here (Ethiopian Records Remix)
Aster Aweke – Chewa
Open Mike Eagle – The Edge of New Clothes
Homeboy Sandman – Far Out
Perfume Genius – Eye in the Wall

The Fortnightly Playlist, September 1st, 2019

“I am invincible in these sunglasses”

That one line is certainly a favorite for me in this edition of the playlist, but there is so much more here. There’s new albums from Shredders and Ride, and new singles from The New Pornographers, Tinariwen, Bow Thayer, Lemolo, and Jospeh Arthur.

This new group call Black Country, New Road has snatched a lot of attention considering they only have 2 songs out there in the wide world of internetland. There’s some measure of poetic appreciation in “Sunglasses”, and there is an equal measure of rock’n’roll swagger. There are good things to come here, and I think it is somewhat in the vein of artists like Fontaines D.C. who have been doing some great things with their music.

This is also a very widespread edition of the playlist as there are 8 nations represented here. I gravitate toward what is sometimes called “desert blues”. These are North African artists mostly. They come from nations like Mali and Niger. It’s interesting how this music came about as it was sort of the influence of American Blues returning to its roots in Africa. Now we get to hear these cousins of each other in a communication with each other, and I intentionally put them in the playlist among each other. Altin Gun is a Dutch group influenced heavily by Turkish pop from the 70’s and 80’s, then Bow Thayer is an Americana artist that is very much a melding of Celtic and African styles that created much of what we think of as American folk and blues, then we have two desert blues artists following  in Tinariwen and Songhoy Blues. Folk music is all where music relates, and pop music often melds it together. This is where things connect.

Shredders is a huge favorite this time, but also really loving Altin Gun and The New Pornographers. Enjoy!


Joseph Arthur – Streetcar
Ride – Jump Jet
Iggy Pop – Sonali
Kuinka – Wet Cement
Lemolo – Interlude
Black Country, New Road – Sunglasses
Mudhoney – One Bad Actor
Foals – Black Bull
Bon Iver – Naeem
Salt Cathedral – tus ojos
Residente, Bad Bunny – Bellacoso
Shredders – Vanilla ISIS
Denham, P.O.S – Overcast
Billy Woods, Kenny Segal, E L U C I D – Crawlspace
Shredders – It Was Written…Again
Brittany Howard – He Loves Me
Skeleton Flower – My Double
The New Pornographers – The Surprise Knock
Diiv – Skin Game
Altin Gun – Yolcu
Bow Thayer – Morning Glory
Tinariwen – Kel Tinawen
Songhoy Blues – Time to Go Home (Blake Mills Mix)
A-WA – Shama’a

The Fortnightly Playlist, August 18th, 2019

As I’ve come to always do here, this edition includes some local, national, and global artists, some newcomers, veterans, and longtime legends, and a wide array of genres. New albums from Bon Iver, Burna Boy, and Kassi Valazza, and new singles from Loma, Lemolo, Raphael Saadiq, The New Pornographers, Ocean Wisdom, and Phantogram are all included here.

Justin Vernon is one of the most talented, boundary-pushing artists making music today. One album is never the same the one before. In recent albums this has been a movement into more electronic sounds and more effects on his vocals. In Bon Iver’s 2016 album, 22, a million, this was taken to a much further degree than before. In the new record, i,i, Vernon pulls things back in a different direction. It feels more intimate and straightforward, and many of the best lyrical moments feel that way too. I think there’s a very good balance to this album. The swelling, climactic moments on “Hey, Ma” and “Faith” are full of moving and powerful, and they are well-timed in the context of the full album. It’s a beautiful work.

I’m very excited for the return of Lemolo. The new album, Swansea, is due out this fall from Poulsbo, WA singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Meagan Grandall. It’s been 4 years since her 2nd record, Red Right Return, was released. This is when I first heard and fell in love with her music. A few months later I got to see her open for M. Ward, and I love seeing that an artist can both put on an amazing show and make excellent records. The new single, “High Tide”, certainly has me looking forward to the new album.

Other favorites this edition are TR/ST, Raphael Saadiq, Mavis Staples, Homeboy Sandman, Death Cab for Cutie, and The Hold Steady.


TR/ST – Iris
Loma – Half Silences
Lemolo – High Tide
The New Pornographers – Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile
Raphael Saadiq – So Ready
Little Simz, Michael Kiwanuka – Flowers
Ocean Wisdom – 4AM
Verb T, Pitch 92 – Tragedy & Comedy
Homeboy Sandman – West Coast
Burna Boy – On The Low
Clinton Fearon – Time
Mavis Staples – Stronger
Kassi Valazza – Chino
David Quinn – Wanderin’ Fool
Bon Iver – Faith
Chastity Belt – Elena
NAVVI – Modern Chemistry
Death Cab For Cutie – To the Ground
Big Thief – Not
Phantogram – Mister Impossible
The Hold Steady – You Did Good, Kid

The Fortnightly Playlist, August 4th, 2019

This is among the best playlists I’ve made for this blog. Local, national and international artists, big names and small independent artists, and as stylistically diverse as any playlist I’ve made here before. Certainly, some of these are going to be among my favorites come the end of the year.

Having an artist from the same place as you will always lend a certain connection to a listener. Being from a small town or area will tend to make this connection more significant as there aren’t many artists referencing the places and event you know. Death Cab for Cutie is that band for me. Never is this more clear than in their most recent single, Kids in ’99. The Olympic Pipeline explosion was a huge event locally. It’s not often we saw familiar sights from home on the national news… June 10th 1999, the ruptured pipeline was spilling into Whatcom Creek. The creek runs through a highly populated area, and is very popular in the summer with swimming holes all over. About an hour and a half after the line ruptured, the explosion occured. It had been leaking into the creek, so the explosion traveled fast. Homes and businesses in the area had windows blown from the force. Three kids, one age 18 and two age 10, died from the incident. I was 13 at the time. I knew people who lived in the area, and who played in the creek all the time. Things like that make the event very personal. Ben Gibbard said of the song, “The Olympic Pipeline explosion in 1999 was a tragedy that really affected me while we were living in Bellingham. After all these years, I felt it was worthy of its own folk song.”

Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, Maren Morris, and Natalie Hemby have released a few singles now as the Highwomen, but the most recent has caused much more of a stir. It’s a stunning and powerful cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”. It’s a convincing supergroup of Americana music with each member recently hitting new highs in their careers (of course, Carlile had my album of the year in 2018). There’s good things to come here, I’m sure of it.

Although it was released quite early in the year, I had to close things off with another track from Ibibio Sound Machine. The London group has my favorite record of the year so far, and I was so excited to see them Friday night for a sold out show in Seattle. This group gives their all on stage, and the energy is contagious. The whole room was dancing. And afterward, they keep giving. Everyone who stayed wanted to talk with Eno, and she took the time with each person chatting, giving hugs, thanking people. I got to just hang out and have a drink with Derrick (the bassist). We talked about how we both started playing music in church, about legal weed, about quitting smoking, and, of course, about the music. If you get the chance, they’ll give you the best show you could ask for.

Other favorites this edition include Black Pumas, Mereba, Chong the Nomad, and Sampa the Great. Enjoy!


Four Tet – Teenage Birdsong
Chong the Nomad – Nothing Else
Sampa the Great – Final Form
DJ Shadow, De La Soul – Rocket Fuel
Shredders – Suburban Base
Drab Majesty – The Other Side
New Age Healers – Hang On
Black Belt Eagle Scout – My Heart Dreams
Hatchie – Her Own Heart
Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
Hiss Golden Messenger – Cat’s Eye Blue
Purple Mountains – She’s Making Friends, I’m Turning Stranger
Mikal Cronin – Show Me
Death Cab for Cutie – Kids in’99
Black Pumas – Touch The Sky
Mereba – Kinfolk
Sault – Up All Night
Chance the Rapper – I Got You (Always and Forever)
Brittany Howard – History Repeats
The Black Keys – Shine A Little Light
Vivian Girls – Sick
Iggy Pop – James Bond
The Highwomen – The Chain

The Fortnightly Playlist,July 21st, 2019

Black Pumas, DAM, Ben Harper, Mavis Staples, KOKOKO, Jesca Hoop, Bleached, SAULT, Ride, and Blood Orange all feature in this very diverse edition of The Fortnightly. There are some real favorites of the year included here that I’m very excited about.

It makes sense that I’d feature more from the new Mavis Staples record, We Get By. It’s an album that is certainly among my top 3 for the year so far, and I’ll probably be writing more about later this year. This edition also includes a new single from the producer of We Get By, Ben Harper. To be perfectly honest, I can’t think of two artists making more and better music than these two. They’re prolific, but more than that their music is always top notch, inspired and impactful.

It seems no one knows much about this group called SAULT, but there is a lot of excitement about their debut album, 5. They’ve got dancey, energetic, and soulful grooves, and an overall sound that melds together and many different genres. It seems that everyone I know who follows music has been somewhat blindsided by this one, and the record is now garnering a lot more attention 2 months after its release on the label, Forever Living Originals. As of yet, there seems to be little known about them aside from their excellent album.

Other favorites this edition include Black Pumas, Blood Orange, DAM, and KOKOKO!

Black Pumas – Colors
The Soft Cavalry – Never Be Without You
Kyle Craft – Sunday Driver
Belle & Sebastian – Sister Buddha
Bleached – Hard to Kill
Tijuana Panthers – Little Pamplemousse
Jesca Hoop – Red White and Black
Ben Harper – Uneven Days
North Mississippi Allstars, Mavis Staples – What You Gonna Do?
Mavis Staples – Sometime
Sault – Let Me Go
Blood Orange, Justine Skye – Good For You
Editors – Frankenstein
Sleater-Kinney – The Center Won’t Hold
Mirror Ferrari – Vater
Ride – Repetition
Confidence Man – Don’t You Know I’m in a Band?
KOKOKO! – Malembe
DAM – Milliardat
Mavis Staples – One More Change

The Fortnightly Playlist, July 7th, 2019

I build these playlists because I like them myselft. I get little bits of joy from compiling a list that covers all genres, but still flows smoothly as if it were a cohesive album. I don’t always strike the right balance through the entire list, but sometimes I hit that sweet spot, and I love it. This edition features new albums from Sampa the Great, Mavis Staples, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Bad Books, and Two Door Cinema club, as well as new singles from Lucy Dacus, Dem Atlas, and Temples.

Mavis Staples has released yet another enduring record. She’s a national treasure, and an artist that is constantly working and releasing high-quality material. Featured here is the title track of We Get By which is a beautiful duet with Ben Harper. NPR’s review of this album called Mavis “the living embodiment of gospel music’s place in the civil rights movement”, and that seems the best way to describe her specific place in our American Music canon. But it needs to be emphasized that she has not stopped pushing to new territory with her music. It has a rootsy feel, but also a modern twist. She hasn’t shied away from working with young artists of very different styles. Arcade Fire, Gorillaz, Pusha T… nothing is off-limits to Mavis.

Are you looking for a record made by and for guitar players? Because as a guitar player for nearly 20 yrs, I couldn’t recommend one more than Mettavolution by Rodrigo y Gabriela. The Mexican duo have everything you could want in an instrumental guitar album. It is two guitar masters weaving in and out of each other with strong grooves building to furious pace, and every little flourish brings something more to each song.

Other favorites this edition include Shredders, Ane Brun, Sampa the Great, The Raconteurs, the collaboration between Iron & Wine and Calexico, and Open Mike Eagle featuring on this Two Door Cinema Club song. Enjoy!


Ane Brun – You’ll Never Walk Alone
Sampa the Great, REMI – Flowers
Two Door Cinema Club, Open Mike Eagle – Nice to See You
Temples – Hot Motion
Julia Shapiro – Harder To Do
Middle Kids – Beliefs and Prayers
Stella Donnelly – Old Man
Lucy Dacus – Forever Half Mast
Kishi Bashi – A Meal for Leaves
Rodrigo y Gabriela – Terracentric
Mavis Staples, Ben Harper – We Get By
The Raconteurs – Help Me Stranger
Bad Books – Myths Made Plain
Calexico, Iron & Wine – In Your Own Time
Rodrigo y Gabriela – Krotona Days
Black Adidas – Be Cool
A-WA – Malhuga
Shredders – Ayeyayaya
Dem Atlas, Atmosphere – Bad Days Are Over
Sampa the Great – Protect Your Queen
Rel McCoy, Grimace Love – The Moment