The Fortnightly Playlist, May 20th, 2018

There is so much in this list that I want to write about. The second single has been released from Angelique Kidjo’s reimagining of the Talking Heads classic album, Remain in Light, and you couldn’t ask for a better artist to present this album in a new way. I’m also including Childish Gambino’s single that took the world by storm two weeks ago. I actually didn’t see the video until the last edition was ready to go. There are fantastic new albums out from Wussy, Middle Kids, Bombino, Black Stax, and Ry Cooder, and there are some exciting singles from Neko Case and Balmorhea.

I usually listen to the radio throughout my workday, and glean all kinds of new discoveries from KEXP Seattle. Sometimes, I need to change things up, and recently I’ve finally checked out a podcast that I’ve been meaning to try for awhile. Romesh Ranganathan has a podcast called Hip Hop Saved My Life, and it has given me a few discoveries so far as I’ve caught up on some of the catalog of 50-some episodes. The best so far, though, has been Ocean Wisdom. Now, I’ve only been into Hip Hop for the past 4-5 yrs, so I’m no expert. That said, Ocean Wisdom can absolutely spit fire. His new double-LP, Wizville, was released back in February, and features guest appearances from Method Man, Rodney P, Dizzee Rascal, and Jehst.

I wrote a bit about Ry Cooder recently, and last week his new album, Prodigal Son, was released. Ry is an artist that never quits learning, trying new things, and putting out the absolute best music that he can. On this new record, we are treated to a master of blues, folk and gospel giving us masterful blues, folk, and gospel. Ry may have delved deep into soundtrack composition and won grammys for his ambitious world music projects, but there is nothing quite like hearing a blues master just play his guitar. That’s what this record is, and it is beautiful. Standout tracks here are “Straight Street”, “Harbor of Love” and the title track. He’s played with such legends as Taj Mahal, The Rolling Stones, John Lee Hooker, Van Morrison, Ali Farka Toure and V.M. Bhatt, and he takes all the knowledge he’s amassed to this point and puts it into this record. Here’s more from Ry on The Prodigal Son.

Also, this week… Bombino released his new record, Deran, and in my eyes this is your reigning guitar-hook king. On the local side of things, Black Stax released a fantastic album of Hip-hop and R&B that just smashes it out of the park, and Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam) has a great new rocker of a record called Heaven/Hell. And finally, I’ve got to mention Middle Kids because the chorus on that tune, “Mistake” is so perfect. Enjoy!


Childish Gambino – This is America
Angelique Kidjo – Once in a Lifetime
Aterciopelados, Ana Tijoux – Play
Black Stax – Loyalty is Royalty
Ocean Wisdom – Eye Contact
Nocando – True Autumn
Jeff Ament – The Door
Balmorhea – Shone
Ry Cooder – Harbor of Love
Sera Cahoone – Worry All Your Life
Traveller – Hummingbird
Half Man, Half Biscuit – Man of Constant Sorrow (With a Garage in Constant Use)
Courtney Barnett – Help Your Self
Goat Girl – Throw Me a Bone
Wussy – One Per Customer
Neko Case – Curse of the I-5 Corridor
Middle Kids – Mistake
James – Better Than That
Black Stax – Fiyahstorm
Ry Cooder – Nobody’s Fault But Mine
Bombino – Tenesse
Sidi Toure – Djirbi Mardjie
Nickodemus – Inmortales (Body Move)
Ocean Wisdom – Ting Dun (feat. Method Man)


The Fortnightly Playlist, May 6th, 2018

It’s an interesting mix this edition on the Fortnightly Playlist. It’s more hip-hop heavy than it has been in a long time, there’s some Blues and Americana, and a few unexpected turns in between. Local music in this edition includes Damien Jurado, Band of Horses, Thunderpussy, and Rell Be Free. There are new singles from Q-tip (A Tribe Called Quest), Ry Cooder, Wussy, Anderson.Paak, and Mazzy Star. This time around there are fewer artists from outside North America, but I have included Finnish singer-songwriter, Mikko Joensuu, and a few artists from the UK.

Thievery Corporation’s album from last year, The Temple of I & I, was among my favorites of 2017. They’ve now released a solid collection of B-sides and remixes from those sessions called Treasures from the Temple. There are some very worthwhile songs in it, and overall it all holds together very well. That said, I think they made good decisions in what made the original album. Some of these are slower tunes, some of them ramble, and some lack the hooks and the energy to make the cut. It was still a good listen. San San Rock, History, Voyage Libre, and Joy Ride are the best here in my opinion.

Seattle singer-songwriter, Damien Jurado, has released his new album, The Horizon Just Laughed, this week, but it the full album will not be available on streaming sites for another 2 months. He has released a 3rd single for streaming though, so that is included here. I got to hear the entire record on the radio the morning of its release. Included was an interview with Damien, and some of the songs were performed live on air. It’s a beautiful album that he’s made. It is intimate and purposeful. I definitely recommend this one.

I cannot recommend anything more than Mikko Joensuu. The Finnish multi-instrumentalist closes out the playlist this edition. He released 3 records over the course of 2016-17: Amen 1, Amen 2, and Amen 3. Stylistically, they cover a lot of ground. There are elements of rock, ambient, electronica, and various folk traditions. Start to finish, they are impressive and beautiful works.


Ry Cooder – Straight Street
Anderson.Paak – ‘Til It’s Over
Q-tip – Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
Rell Be Free – Under My Skin
Sean Price – Fight Club
Lethal Bizzle – London (remix)
Janelle Monae – Crazy, Classic, Life
Beach House – Dive
Epic Beard Men – Fresh to Death (feat. Dope Knife)
Rell Be Free – Unchained
Slum Village – Hold Tight (Remix)
Thievery Corporation – Joy Ride
Mazzy Star – Quiet, the Winter Harbor
Trampled by Turtles – Thank You, John Steinbeck
Damien Jurado – Percy Faith
Wussy – Getting Better
Courtney Barnett – City Looks Pretty
Death by Unga Bunga – Cynical
Band of Horses – Nadie Te Va A Amar Como Yo
El Dusty – La Cumbia
Frank Turner – 21st Century Survival Blues
Thurston Moore – MX Liberty
Thunderpussy – Badlands
Chvrches – Miracle
GEMS – Crippled Inside
Mikko Joensuu – The Worst In Me

Just because I like it Vol III: Doomtree

This week I’m going to see Dessa. This will be the third time in the space of less than a year that I’ll be seeing a member of the Doomtree collective. In the past year, I’ve certainly written a fair amount about them. I’ve actually not been familiar with Doomtree all that long, but I really went all in when I discovered them for myself. I heard a live in-studio session on KEXP with P.O.S. back in January of last year, and I was convinced enough to include a track in the playlist. A friend commented on it saying that I should look into P.O.S.’ earlier albums and Doomtree. I jumped in with both feet, and listened to everything.

For those who aren’t familiar, Doomtree are a hip-hop collective from Minneapolis, MN. The group consists of rappers P.O.S., Cecil Otter, Sims, Dessa, Mike Mictlan and DJs Paper Tiger, and Lazerbeak. Each member has their own solo projects as well as various side projects. They own and operate their own label, and do nearly everything themselves. For their earliest releases, there was something of a DIY work-in-progress feel, and it seems they have learned and improved with every record they make. You can hear it in this playlist as it takes one song from each record chronologically. I’ve included some of their side projects and special appearances as well to get a better feel for what they’ve done.

Last fall, P.O.S.’ Chill, Dummy tour hit, and I saw him at the Wild Buffalo in Bellingham, WA. At that point, I was already well familiarized with all of his material, and the show was an absolute blast. I got to meet him briefly afterward, and he was really cool and down-to-earth. By November, the Shredders album, Dangerous Jumps, came out, and there was another tour on the way. This time, Sims and P.O.S. handle all the rhymes, and Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger teamed up for some of their best work to date. In January of this year, I saw them at Chop Suey in Seattle. I’ve given some attention in the fortnightly playlist to Dessa’s new record, Chime, and I’m excited about seeing her at the Neptune in Seattle this Friday.

If you’re wondering where to start with this big of a catalog, then the best place is No Kings. This is really the cohesive full-collective album. From there, whichever member grabs you attention most is the place to go. For me that was P.O.S., Sims, Dessa and Paper Tiger.

The Fortnightly Playlist, April 22nd, 2018

Another big playlist of new music again this edition. When I make these there are a few things that I always try to do. One of my biggest goals is to include local, national and international artists. There’s always some fluctuation in this, but I feel like, in general, I make that happen. I really like the balance I’ve struck on this edition. Of course, there is the usual covering many genres as well.

Singer and violinist, Sudan Archives, has me excited right now. Her debut EP last year was truly unique, and the singles she’s released since then have grabbed my attention as well. On her latest release, Nont For Sale, she plucks the violin to an R&B beat. She sings beautifully, and she blends Sudanese fiddling, R&B, West African rhythms, and experimental electonic beats. I am super excited to see what she’ll come out with next.

Given that I’ve used spotify to share these playlists, there are sometimes artists that I cannot share. Ty Segall has been one of these… until now. Just in the last 2 weeks, Ty’s library went up on spotify.  The fuzzy garage psychedelia master is very prolific. Ty always has a new album out, so I’ve included a track from his latest record, Freedom’s Goblin. If you’re unfamiliar and interested in Ty, then I would recommend Manipulator as a good album to get started.

I have lived between Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC my whole life. At times closer to Vancouver, and now much nearer to Seattle. This means I’ve had the benefit of seeing pieces of both local scenes. Dan Mangan is an artist that I am so happy to know thanks to Canadian radio. It’s been 7 yrs since Dan’s last full-length, Oh Fortune. It has really held up as a favorite for me, and so I am really happy to see some new material from him. He’s actually been busy since then doing some work on various soundtracks. Oh Fortune and Nice, Nice, Very Nice in particular have shown us an excellent and insightful songwriter. I look forward to more from Dan Mangan.

My other favorites this time around are Trick Candles, Kultur Shock, Wye Oak, Parquet Courts, Altin Gun, and Lord Huron.


Lord Huron – Back From The Edge
Fastbacks – I Was Stolen
Arthur Buck – I Am The Moment
Wye Oak – It Was Not Natural
Ament – Safe in the Car
Ty Segall – Alta
Sunflower Bean – I Was A Fool
Damien Jurado – Allocate
Sera Cahoone – Baker Lake
Dan Mangan – Fool For Waiting
Roja Y Negro – Tinta Roja
Residente – Sexo
Busdriver – GUSH
Epic Beard Men – Two Different Worlds
Bishop Nehru – Driftin’
Sudan Archives – Nont for Sale
Janelle Monae – I Like That
Trick Candles – Pretend We’re Alone
Kultur Shock – Mirakula Fantastika
Parquet Courts – Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience
Wussy – Aliens in our midst
Altin Gun – Goca Dunya
A.A.L – Such a Bad Way
Fidlar – Alcohol
Manchester Orchestra – No Hard Feelings
James – Busted
Thunderpussy – Thunderpussy

The Fortnightly Playlist, April 8th, 2018

Whew! Well, 2018 releases have picked up their pace by this point in the year, and I might be falling behind a bit. This will be one of the longest Fortnightly lists, and I still had to push some things until next time. Whenever this happens, I feel like I come out with one of my strongest lists though.

Last edition, I mentioned that my all-time favorite band, Pearl Jam, was back, and now this time I am focusing in on another of my all-time favorite artists. Ry Cooder’s last full-length album came out in 2012. He did release a live album in 2013 and tour extensively with Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White in 2015-16, so you can hardly say that it’s been a quiet few years for the multi-instrumentalist/music historian/songwriter. Ry’s career is fascinating to me (I have had a partially finished, more extensive project on him that has been sitting for awhile). He started playing music very young, formed a band at age 17 along with a young Taj Mahal, played with Captain Beefheart, and with the Rolling Stones (years later there was some dispute about the Stones building some hit songs around some riffs that were his). His first several albums were nearly all covers. He was something of an Americana master. Particularly, he was well-known for his slide guitar work, but he plays many. After several solo records, he began doing movie soundtracks and did some work with musicians around the world. He worked with legends like V.M. Bhatt (Grammy: best world music album of 1993), Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ali Farka Toure (Grammy: best world music album 1994), Manuel Galban (best pop instrumental album 2003), and, most well-known, the Buena Vista Social Club (Grammy: best tropical latin performance 1997). In the mid 00’s, Ry returned to his solo career, and now with almost entirely original material. Ry’s long career through diverse styles and with high-caliber musicians with numerous backgrounds has made him a truly one-of-a-kind artist. The new album, Prodigal Son, is set to be released on May 11.

Perhaps if Ry were to return to working with accomplished World musicians, then Bombino might be among those I could see him working alongside. I first heard Bombino sometime around late 2016/early 2016. He was an artist that changed my entire view of my own instrument. Bombino’s Touareg desert blues guitar playing opened up a whole different style of playing for me. With his last release, Azel, he began to delve into reggae and blend it in with his desert blues. On the newly released singles from his upcoming album, Deran, he continues working to weave reggae into his sound. From this, a new wordblend has been coined, “Touareggae”. I’ve included the song Tehigren here as it really is the clearest example of this. Deran is out May 18th.

Also this edition, I’ve delved into quite a lot of Latin music. Mint Field, Javiera Mena, Elsa y Elmar, and Centavrvs deliver a wide range of latin styles in this list. Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite have an excellent new album out. I’ve also included the latest from Kevin Devine’s Devinyl Splits series which is with Craig Finn of The Hold Steady. The Black Tones have put their very first song on spotify this week, and I’m excited to share this incredible local band with you all. Brandi Carlile remains at the top of my list for the year with her new album, By The Way… I Forgive You. All in all, this is quite possibly my favorite playlist I’ve put together this year. I hope you all enjoy it.


The Black Tones – The Key of Black
Bombino – Tehigren
Thievery Corporation – Voyage Libre
Ry Cooder – The Prodigal Son
Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite – No Mercy In This Land
Speedy Ortiz – Lean In When I Suffer
Mint Field – Ojos En El Carro
Brandi Carlile – Whatever You Do
Kevin Devine, Craig Finn – Galveston
Trembling Bells – My Father Was a Collapsing Star
Guided By Voices – See My Field
Illuminati Hotties – Paying Off The Happiness
Haley Heynderickx – Oom Sha La La
Courtney Barnett – Need a Little Time
Javiera Mena – Intuición
Elsa Y Elmar – Culpa, Tengo
Sons of Kemet – My Queen Is Harriet Tubman
U.S. Girls – M.A.H.
Czarface, MF Doom – Nautical Depth
Chris Carter – Blissters
Preoccupations – Decompose
Centavrvs – Debilidad
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – Coolin’ Out (feat. Lucius)
Gengahr – I’ll Be Waiting
John Parish – Sorry For Your Loss
Angelique Kidjo – Born Under Punches

The Fortnightly Playlist, March 25th, 2018

Well, a week of vacation can leave you playing catch up a little with music releases as you return to normal life, but I think I’ve got an excellent list here of releases that didn’t escape my notice. New singles from some of my all-time favorite artists/bands, so I’m pretty excited about music in 2018. In particular, Pearl Jam, The Hold Steady, Damien Jurado and Joe Purdy have given me a lot to look forward to. New albums released by Jack White, Deva Mahal, The Decemberists, I Will Keep Your Ghost, and Ought also included this edition.

Plenty of local music this time around. Damien Jurado, Pearl Jam, and Moondoggies all here. I’d like to give a quick shout out to I Will Keep Your Ghost. The Everett-based band mixes dance and electronic music with vocal-driven rock, and includes someone I know as my bartender at my local pub. I really think this is going to be something of a breakout for them. The record is just 5 songs, but it is excellent.

My all-time favorite band has released their first new material in 4 and a half years. Pearl Jam are back, and the new single, Can’t Deny Me, has been confirmed to be from an upcoming album. This is combined with a spring/summer tour through South America, Europe and then North America. The years since their last studio album, Lightning Bolt, have been far from quiet. Several Pearl Jam projects have found their way into some Fortnightly Playlists in the last couple years. RNDM, The Levee Walkers, and several artists on Mike McCready’s label, Hockeytalkter, have been featured here. I’m so excited to see them reconvene as Pearl Jam once again.  It’s their first release since their induction in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year.

Other favorites this time around include Deva Mahal (daughter of Blues Legend, Taj Mahal), The Hold Steady, and the newest from The Decemberists.


The Decemberists – Once In My Life
Hiss Golden Messenger – Standing In The Doorway
Pete International Airport – Flowers of Evil
Pearl Jam – Can’t Deny Me
The Hold Steady – Eureka
Jack White – Over and Over and Over
Ought – These 3 Things
I Will Keep Your Ghost – Gold Leaf
Damien Jurado – Over Rainbows and Rainier
Joe Purdy – Moonlight
Dr. Dog – Buzzing in the Light
Deva Mahal – Turnt Up
Zaki Ibrahim – Cut Loose
Young Fathers – Turn
Mere Women – Eternally
Moondoggies – Sick in Bed
False Heads – Retina
Sleeptalk – I Hope You’re Doing Well
Deva Mahal – Can’t Call It Love
Shame – One Rizla
Dreams – No One Defeats Us

The Fortnightly Playlist, March 11th, 2018

Here we are into March, and we’re entirely into 2018 music with this edition. New albums out from Delvon Lamar Organ Trio, Young Fathers, Camp Cope, Imarhan, Jen Cloher, and David Byrne (The Talking Heads), and new singles from Neko Case, Yo La Tengo, Janelle Monae, CHVRCHES, and Jon Hopkins are all included this time around.

The new Brandi Carlile album, By The Way, I Forgive You, has really been a standout record for me. Brandi has carved out a place for herself somewhere between pop/rock and folk/country, and her latest is a showcase of her talents in bringing these different parts together. Last edition, I included the contemplative and reflective country tune Every Time I Hear That Song and the passionate ballad The Joke.  This time I’m including Hold Out Your Hand. This tune has some twists to it. The verses have a sort of rambling classic country sound, and then the chorus breaks into a huge stomping sing-along. When you find an artist that continues to be better and better with each release, then it is worth following them.

There has been significant buzz around Janelle Monae’s new single. One aspect of this derives from Prince’s involvement in production for this record, and it doesn’t take more an encyclopedic knowledge of Prince to here a bit of the Purple One’s distinct touch in Make Me Feel. Monae’s performance here is amazing, and this single is going to be a big one for the year. It has all the makings of a smash hit, and yet has enough to stand on musically to avoid being played to death. It’s a unique balancing act here, and I look forward to hearing what the rest of the record holds.

Other personal favorites in this list are Buffalo Tom, Young Fathers, Jen Cloher, CHVRCHES and David Byrne.


The Fortnightly Playlist, February 25th, 2018

There are some highly anticipated releases in this edition as well as some pleasant surprises that I’ve stumbled upon. Dessa and Spanglish Fly both have new releases that I’ve been eagerly waiting on. New discoveries for me include HOLY and Dizzy Fae.

Dessa’s new album, Chime, is my most anticipated release thus far in 2018. The buzz around this has been gathering particularly since the 2nd single, Fire Drills, dropped in December. The 3 singles that we’d heard beforehand (Good Grief, Fire Drills, and 5 Out Of 6) are certainly among the high points in this record for me. That said, Dessa certainly didn’t show too much of her hand before playing. Velodrome is a real standout for me, but the record is definitely still most rewarding if you have the chance to listen start-to-finish. This is the latest out from the Minneapolis collective, Doomtree, and it seems that with each release the entire group gets better. So while it has been 5 yrs since Dessa’s last solo full-length, Parts of Speech, one can see the considerable experience gained since then. Chime is her best to date.

A couple months back I heard Spanglish Fly’s cover of You Know I’m No Good by Amy Winehouse. It caught my attention immediately as the song was one of the first that my own band had played together when we were just starting to practice. Spanglish Fly’s version was decidedly different though. The Boogaloo revivalists brought their own energy and firey Latin style to the song. The group takes up a fairly unique space in the current musical landscape taking the traditional New York Boogaloo blend of Afro-cuban and Soul, but also bringing in Jazz, Flamenco, Doo-wop, Hip-Hop, and even Arabic. The band is a true melting pot of music and culture, and their new record, Ay Que Boogaloo! is a perfect reflection of band’s own varied cultural roots.

Puerto Rican rapper, Residente tried a new experiment with his new record that brought in some new and unexpected collaborations. He took a genetic test. His discoveries about his own roots inspired him to find artists from those regions to collaborate on the record. One of the attention-grabbers for me was a song I included this edition featuring one of my favorite desert-blues guitarists, Bombino.

Other new albums from HOLY, Ezra Furman, Loma, Brandi Carlile, and Superchunk feature this edition as well as new singles from King Tuff, Beach House, and Dr. Dog. Finally, I would be remiss if I neglected the Black Panther soundtrack. I’ve not mentioned it much at all, but I think that album (along with the movie itself) is going to be viewed as a cultural landmark for many years to come.


The Leers – I Can’t Cope
Dizzy Fae – Canyon
Kendrick Lamar, SZA – All the Stars
Dessa – Say When
Kehlani – Again
Spanglish Fly – You Know I’m No Good/Chica Mala Mambo
Residente feat. Bombino – La Sombra
King Tuff – Psycho Star
Ezra Furman – No Place
Brandi Carlile – Every Time I Hear That Song
I’m With Her – Ryland (Under the Apple Tree)
Tom Forest – Superhuman
Dr Dog – Go Out Fighting
Hollow Twin – The Valley
Car Seat Headrest – Sober to Death
Brandi Carlile – The Joke
Ezra Furman – God Lifts Up the Lowly
HOLY – Wish 3
Dessa – Velodrome
Beach House – Lemon Glow
Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Anderson.Paak, James Blake – Bloody Waters
Busta Rhymes – Get It
A Perfect Circle – TalkTalk
Loma – Relay Runner
Courtney Barnett – Nameless, Faceless
Superchunk – Erasure

Just because I like it Volume II: Desert Blues

I recently read The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that some artists that I’ve featured on The Fortnightly Playlist made some appearances in the book, and some of the musicians were even interviewed for it. The story is of archivist Abdel Kader Haidara. First his journeys to gather ancient manuscripts from around the Niger River, then his efforts to construct libraries and museums to house the beautiful ancient texts, then, as jihadi extremists stormed in from the North, there was the desperate smuggling missions to save the priceless historical texts to safety in Southern Mali. The author describes how, before the invasion by Al Queda and the subsequent war, Mali was going through a stage of massive cultural growth. Reading this book, and seeing some of these artists included, I decided that I would put together this little collection.

Often mentioned by Hammer, is a figure of massive influence for modern music in the area: Ali Farka Toure. He pioneered the electric guitar stylings that became signatures of Malian music in the decades since. Ali Farka Toure passed away in 2006, but not before grooming many students to become significant artists as well. It seemed fitting to bookend this collection.

Next is a band that sprang from the upheaval and civil war that took hold of Northern Mali in 2012-13. Some extremist groups were particularly threatening to musicians, and claimed that innovation itself was a form of heresy. Musicians caught playing in cities held by groups like Ansar Dine could have their hands chopped off. Songhoy Blues formed in Bamako, by musicians who had fled from the North. Their music was embraced by other displaced Songhoy and Tuareg people, and has garnered international acclaim as well.

Hailing from Niger, Bombino has worked with some modern blues-rock and indie musicians from North America on his more recent albums. Nomad was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, and 2016’s Azel was produced by David Longstreth of The Dirty Projectors. It is artists like Bombino that reinvigorated my love for the guitar.

Tinariwen is a very famous group in Mali. The band’s roots are intertwined with an earlier conflict in the country’s history. The revolt in 1990 saw future members of the band participating as rebels fighting for Tuareg independence. After the peace agreement in January of 1991, the band left the military and devoted themselves to music. They first garnered international attention playing The Festival in the Desert, and later headlined the festival multiple times.  They played the festival in 2012 just a matter of days before war broke out. In 2013, Tinariwen were part of a tour in North America called The Festival au Desert – Caravan For Peace.

The Tuareg push for autonomy has had many different incarnations. The nomadic Tuaregs find their home throughout the Saharan region of Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Algeria. During riots in 2006, the members of Tamikrest decided not to take up arms, but instead to call attention to the Tuareg cause through music rather than weapons. They mix their traditional music with many modern styles in a similar vein to Tinariwen.

Khaira Arby is a living legend in Mali. Through her music she has made herself an advocate for women, and she has opened the door for many artistic women to follow in her footsteps. In a region that has seen invasion by the strictest and most brutal extremism, her voice could not be more important. Powerful vocals, a tight electric-guitar-driven groove, and a voice of social justice… that’s Khaira Arby.

Rokia Traore traveled widely in her youth owing to her father being a Malian diplomat. Rokia started perfoming publicly as a student in Bamako, and her influences from other parts of the world get blended in with traditional Malian styles. It is often noted that she incorporated vocal harmonies that are rarely used in other Malian music.

Mariem Hassan was born in what is today known as Western Sahara. The Sahrawi singer was often seen as an advocate for her people, but also was someone who had her own health issues to contend with. When her first solo album was being made, she was fighting breast cancer. Additionally, Baba Salema, the producer and lead guitarist on the record died from leukemia before the record was released. Mariem would beat breast cancer, but was lost to bone cancer in 2015.

Terakaft are fronted by a former member of Tinariwen and his two nephews. They were formed amid the tumult of the jihadi invasion of 2012. As with Songhoy Blues, members fled the region, and their music is heavily influenced by the upheaval that they and their people have suffered through.

Following in the footsteps of his grammy-winning father, Vieux Farka Toure took up the guitar and attended Institut National des Arts in Bamako. His debut album was released in 2007, and featured guest spots by his father who had passed away the year before. Vieux has developed his fingerstyle guitar techniques, and at times melded them with other styles as well.

Finally, we close with a beautiful duet. The song Ai Du is from a collection of duets called Talking Timbuktu by Ali Farka Toure and one of my favorite American musicians of all time… Ry Cooder. Cooder and Toure made an amazing pairing that bridged American and African guitar styles so perfectly. The entire record is well worth the time.


Next week is back to The Fortnightly Playlist. Enjoy!



The Fortnightly Playlist, February 11th, 2018

Things are picking up in 2018 releases now, and we’ve got a very full list of great new music this edition. New singles from PJ Harvey, Dessa, Loma, Jack White, and The Moondoggies, and new full length records from The Oh Hellos, Field Music, HC McEntire, Hookworms, and Kyle Craft have given me a lot of music to go through this time in order to select the music for this one.

Dagadana’s Meridian 68 has actually been out for some time, but they recently released in in several more countries following their signing onto a new label in Germany. I felt the need to share it again after I found myself listening to it on repeat about a week and a half ago. Dagadana blend their Ukrainian and Polish folk roots with modern styles, and on Meridian 68 they work with some musicians from China and Mongolia to bring in folk style from across all of Asia. The result is an incredibly beautiful blend of folk traditions along with modern jazz and electronica. Yes, it’s original release date was 2 years ago, but I make the rules and I get to break them. I strongly recommend this one.

As I’ve already mentioned on this blog, Dessa’s new album, Chime, is the one I’m most excited for in 2018. She released a new single this past week. From the material released so far, this seems like a more aggressive and edgy side of Dessa. It’s something I’d expect more of her work alongside fellow Doomtree members like P.O.S., but it is definitely a side of her that I’m happy to see more of. Chime is out February 23rd, and is available for pre-order at Doomtree’s website.

Field Music, Loma and Wye Oak are some of my other favorites this time around. I have to question whether next edition will include Chime in its entirety, but I can’t let myself plan too far ahead.




PJ Harvey – An Acre of Land
Calexico – Voices in the Field
Glen Hansard – Wheels on Fire
Jack White – Corporation
MGMT – Little Dark Age
Dagadana – I Shall Never Fear At All
Wye Oak – The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs
Jen Cloher – Strong Woman
Hookworms – Static Resistance
The Oh Hellos – Grow
First Aid Kit – Rebel Heart
Calexico – Eyes Wide Awake
Kyle Craft – Bridge City Rose
HC McEntire – A Lamb, A Dove
The Moondoggies – Easy Coming
Field Music – Time In Joy
Maryam Saleh; Maurice Louca; Tamer Abu Ghazaleh – Ekaa Maksour
Dessa – 5 out of 6
The Low Anthem – Give My Body Back
Lord Huron – Ancient Names (Part I)
Lord Huron – Ancient Names (Part II)
Loma – Joy
Porches – Goodbye
Dagadana – In That Orchad