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!

tracklist:
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

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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!

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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

The Fortnightly Playlist, June 23rd, 2019

Another two weeks worth of new music here. New albums from Charly Bliss, Kishi Bashi, Keb’ Mo’, Tyler The Creator, and a collaboration between Iron & Wine and Calexico. Also, new singles from Julien Baker, Kyle Craft, and Bat for Lashes.

Open Mike Eagle has a new release of songs made for his Comedy Central show The New Negroes with Baron Vaughn. Each tune is a collaboration with the musical guest of the episode. You may find with these that some hold up better than others without the music videos. Personally, I think “Police Myself” (featuring MF Doom), “Woke as Me” (featuring Phonte), and “Racism 2.0” (featuring Sammus) hold up best as songs without the visuals.

I dug into Kishi Bashi’s new album this week, and it is so good! The American singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter has an impressive resume recording and touring with a wide array of artists including Of Montreal, Regina Spektor, and Alexi Murdoch. Omoiyari is his 4th full-length solo record, and it features a bright and varied sound full of intricate weaving strings and a positive message. As NPR points out in their review, the positive message is right in the title. Omoiyari is the idea that thinking of others fosters compassion. This is a beautiful record.

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Tracklist:
Charly Bliss – Blown To Bits
Bat for Lashes – Kids in the Dark
Flume, London Grammar – Let You Know
Tyler, The Creator – I Think
Open Mike Eagle, Sammus – Racism 2.0
Sophia Eris, Lazerbeak, Bionik – Feel The Burn
A-WA – Ya Watani
Sinkane – On Being
Fruit Bats – Gold Past Life
Kishi Bashi – F Delano
Kyle Craft & Showboat Honey – Deathwish Blue
Frankie Cosmos – Windows
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real – Turn Off the News (Build a Garden)
Julien Baker – Red Door
Calexico, Iron & Wine – Midnight Sun
Hiss Golden Messenger – I Need a Teacher
Keb’ Mo’ – Ridin’ On a Train
Bad Books – UFO
Julia Shapiro – Shape
Teen Daze – Drifts
Kishi Bashi – Marigolds

The Fortnightly Playlist, June 9th, 2019

Sometimes I really can’t stop thinking about this list. It has to be right, and I’m making changes right down to when I post it. Pulling a song last minute because it doesn’t fit, or adding a song I just came across and just can’t leave out. This is one of those, but I think I got it right in the end. There are some big artists here with new singles out. Sleater-Kinney, Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, Pixies, and Phantogram all have new singles out in the last couple weeks, and if those aren’t big artists for you then it is possible we live in different worlds.

Playlist Here!

Let’s talk Sleater-Kinney. Because I think it is really something to see a band reinvent themselves at this point in their career, and still hold to the essence of what they have already built. This new single is different. The new album is produced by Annie Clark, who you may know better as St. Vincent. You can hear her influence on this first single. Where you may tend to think of Sleater-Kinney as fitting largely into punk, on “Hurry On Home” the beat is much slower than what you expect of a punk band. The drums are slow and heavy, and the song grooves. St. Vincent blended her own sound with the band’s established sound extremely well, and it became something all its own. I’m excited to hear more of this record.

I’ve written plenty on this blog about Sinkane. I’ve given the band more attention than many artists, and Life & Livin’ It topped my year-end favorites list in 2017. Sinkane’s music is worth the attention, and they do things that most artists don’t. It’s somewhere in this blend of African Psych-funk, and Brooklyn indie synth-pop, but Ahmed Gallab has a slough of influences that form such a unique and interesting artist. He is the band-leader of William Onyeabor tribute, Atomic Bomb. Of course, William Onyeabor is one of the clearest influences on Sinkane, but through this project Gallab has worked with David Byrne (Talking Heads), Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz), Dev Hynes (Lightspeed Champion, Blood Orange), Amadou & Mariam, and Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip). While working with such a diverse list of artists would surely help bring out the sound Sinkane has developed, it is Gallab’s personal life that has been formative in his lyrics and message of the music. Born in London, early years of life in Sudan, and then his family moved to Ohio. His multicultural experience growing up has become a hallmark of his music, and of who he chooses to work with on each record. On the new record, Depayse, this melting pot of sounds and influences is at its best, and is honed to an even better balance that has built on the foundation of the first four Sinkane records.

Durand Jones & The Indications, Cave Clove, Hatchie, Dessa, and Fontaines D.C. are among my other favorites in this edition. Enjoy!

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Tracklist:
Operators – I Feel Emotion
Flying Lotus, Anderson.Paak – More
Durand Jones & The Indications – Long Way Home
Keb’ Mo’ – I Remember You
TK & The Holy Know-Nothings – Emmanuel
Stef Chura – Scream
Sleater-Kinney – Hurry On Home
Fontaines D.C. – Liberty Belle
Amyl & the Sniffers – Cup of Destiny
The Pixies – On Graveyard Hill
Wand – Thin Air
Sufjan Stevens – Love Yourself
Hatchie – Stay With Me
Tame Impala – Borderline
Sinkane – Everyone
Yeasayer – Fluttering in the Floodlights
Phantogram – Into Happiness
Dessa – Good For You
Bon Iver – U (Man Like)
Aldous Harding – Weight of the Planets
Cave Clove – Sage Advice

The Fortnightly Playlist, May 26th, 2019

Well, a fortnight and a half this time. Last week I had a bunch of music to form a playlist, but just didn’t go through with listening to it all and ordering it and writing about it. I needed a break, and I needed some time for silence. I love music, and I’ll basically listen to it all the time. Sometimes it comes to this point where I need to not listen to music because it’s healthy to have some quiet. Something is not right if I hear great music, and I’m not enjoying it. I’m back now, and loving the music again.

Listen Here!

After a long day working late on Wednesday, I was driving home and heard a live in-studio session on the radio by TK & The Holy Know-Nothings. Greg Vandy, host of KEXP’s The Roadhouse, had a great interview with them between songs, and this was the point I got excited to write about music again. Taylor Kingman’s desire to build a loose, groove-heavy jam-band without sacrificing quality lyrical songwriting led to this excellent debut album full of great veteran musicians. Full of brilliant, soulful rock’n’roll, Arguably OK is well-worth the listen.

Fontaines DC’s debut album, Dogrel, has been hotly anticipated. Each single they’ve released has built the anticipation, and they’ve developed a solid reputation in the Dublin area for their energetic live shows. Currently on tour with IDLES, they’ve got sold-out shows almost every date, and the show reviews have been stellar (sadly, no tickets left for Seattle this week). Had to put the two bands back-to-back in the list this time with IDLES new single out as well.

Haelos, Sinkane, Big Thief, Stef Chura, and iLe are among my other favorites currently.

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Tracklist:
Cave Clove – Edge of Emergency
Haelos – Empty Skies
Of Monsters and Men – Alligator
The Head and the Heart – I Found Out
Bruce Springsteen – There Goes My Miracle
TK & The Holy Know-Nothings – Lord, Why’d Ya Make Me?
Mdou Moctar – Asshet Akal
Sinkane – Ya Sudan
SonReal – Parachute
iLe – Odio
Shitkid – DETENTION
Dude York – Falling
Versing – Renew
Big Thief – Cattails
Stef Chura – Sweet Sweet Midnight
Fontaine’s D.C. – Boys in the Better Land
IDLES – Mercedes Marxist
Craig Finn – A Bathtub in the Kitchen
Siobhan Wilson – All Dressed Up Tonight
Whenyoung – The Others
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram – Before I’m Old
The National – Oblivions

The Fortnightly Playlist, May 5th, 2019

Collaborations, new discoveries, longtime songwriting legends, solo records, farewells… there’s a little of everything in this edition. Karen O and Dangermouse have their new record out, and coming soon is the return of Bad Books (Manchester Orchestra and Kevin Devine). New albums also out from Craig Finn, Aldous Harding, Wintersleep, and Tacocat, as well as singles from Kyle Craft, Beck, Mavis Staples, and Richard Reed Parry.

Listen Here!

One release that I’ve been particularly excited for is the new EP from Cave Clove, Dollars to Tokens. Cave Clove grabbed my attention last year when I saw them play at Scuttlebutt Brewery with I Will Keep Your Ghost, The Tellers, and Smokey Brights. They were opening that night, and I got the chance to talk with them a little later on. I’ve been looking forward to featuring new music from them ever since then. This is their first release since 2016’s self-titled record which is well worth a listen, and I’d also recommend bassist Alisa’s project, Saalt.

Craig Finn is a storyteller. It’s always been an aspect of his songwriting that I loved. His voice is unique and unconventional, but it’s the storytelling aspect of his songs that hits you. Finn has actually addressed this in interviews, and talks of relating to his characters the way you might expect an author to speak of relating to a character written in their novel. His newest record, I Need a New War, is among my favorites this year. Song after song has struck me, and it’s clear that The Hold Steady frontman has continued to hone his craft to perfection. “Blankets”, “Her With the Blues”, and “Carmen Isn’t Coming In Today” are among my favorites on the new album.

Other favorites this edition include Mark Lanegan, Kyle Craft, Karen O & Dangermouse, and Aldous Harding. Enjoy!

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Playlist:
Kyle Craft – 2 Ugly 4 NY
Jennie Lawless – My Good Friend Richard
Aldous Harding – Designer
Patrick Park – Five Alarm
Beck – Saw Lightning
Lizzo – Soulmate
Anderson.Paak, Smokey Robinson – Make It Better
BVA – Brothers
Little Simz – Boss
The Black Keys – Eagle Birds
Mavis Staples – Change
Craig Finn – Carmen Isn’t Coming In Today
Mark Lanegan – Stitch It Up
Karen O & Dangermouse – Redeemer
Richard Reed Parry – Long Way Back
Wintersleep – The Lighthouse
Tacocat – The Joke of Life
Bad Books – Lake House
The Cranberries – All Over Now
Cave Clove – I’m Still Tryin’

The Fortnightly Playlist, April 21st, 2019

It’s an exciting playlist this time around. Lately I’ve been really struck by the new singles from Operators, Aldous Harding, Sinkane, Holy Ship, Versing, and HAELOS, as well as the new albums from Lizzo, The Black Tones, Stephen Malkmus, and Little Simz. It’s a wide array of sounds, and I’m loving it myself.

~Listen here~

I think we often miss artists that just aren’t on our own radars, and that is a big part of why I do this. I enjoy sharing things I find, and maybe someone will find something here that they wouldn’t have otherwise come across. I think in terms of race we often get caught up in discussing what is Black culture and White culture and how they interact. Meanwhile, there are very under-represented people making amazing things. Black Belt Eagle Scout grew up in the Swinomish Tribal Community not far from where I live now. Her early influences in music were her family’s native traditions and local rock bands like Nirvana and Hole. Discovering her music last year is a reminder to me to seek out things new things and not just stay in the same circles I’ve occupied before.

Sinkane’s new single, Depayse, is a striking one, and makes me very excited for new music from the Sudanese-American. The immigrant experience is a very prominent and important theme in Sinkane’s music. That experience of being intimately tied to multiple places, and, in a way, multiple identities makes for a very unique and beautiful music. For those who have been reading here for awhile, you know that Sinkane’s Life & Livin’ It was my favorite album of 2017, and I’m very happy to see new music from him again.

Shawn Smith, a local legend in Seattle scene passed away on April 5th. Two weeks ago, I had my post pretty much set to go, and did not really know how to fit him into it in an appropriate way. Shawn was friends with his more widely known Seattle cohorts from the ’90’s to present, but also was a regular at small venues like The High Dive where he could be found whether he was on the bill or not. When KEXP was doing their tribute to him, they had people sending them unreleased material of Shawn’s. It seems that this was just something he would do. He would send someone a song that he wrote and recorded because he was thinking of them, or was asking their opinion. It’s a loss felt by everyone in the Seattle scene, and involves a prominent issue of our culture today. Shawn passed from complications with diabetes, and those complications had been exacerbated by the fact that he could not afford healthcare. This time I decided to close the playlist with two songs from differenct projects he was involved in: “For Those Gone On” by Pigeonhed, and “Through The Day” by Brad. I also would like to share this video of him playing live at The Crocodile.

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Tracklist:
Operators – Faithless
Open Mike Eagle, 2 mello, Inverse Phase – Beatdown City (We Gon’ Whup Yo Ass)
Epic Beard Men – Sand Dunes
Little Simz – Offence
The Budos Band – Old Engine Oil
Stephen Malkmus – Come Get Me
Fruit Bats – The Bottom of It
Courtney Barnett – Everybody Here Hates You
Black Belt Eagle Scout – Loss & Relax
Versing – Tethered
Holy Ship – Night Aquatic
Marshmello, CHVRCHES – Here With Me
Haelos – End of the World Party
Spellling – Under the Sun
Aldous Harding – The Barrel
Sinkane – Depayse
Fuse ODG – Outside of the Ropes
Nilufer Yanya – Baby Blu
Lizzo – Jerome
Little Simz, Michael Kiwanuka – Flowers
The Black Tones – Ghetto Spaceship
Modest Mouse – Poison the Well
Caracara – Learn Your Love
Titus Andronicus – (I Blame) Society
Pigeonhed – For Those Gone On
Brad – Through the Day

The Fortnightly Playlist, April 7th, 2019

Another full 2 weeks, another batch of new music. Americana folk, punk, chamber folk, grunge, goth, funk, rap, blues and soul crammed into one playlist again. New singles from Greys, illuminati hotties, Craig Finn, Quivers, and Sinkane, and new albums out from Cochemea, John Vanderslice, and Lady Lamb all here. New collaborations as well with Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky, Karen O & Danger Mouse, and Phoebe Bridgers & Conor Oberst (Better Oblivion Community Center). New releases from Andrew Bird, Ibibio Sound Machine, and Strand of Oaks also featured again.

Listen Here!

As mentioned before here, Andrew Bird’s newest album is titled My Finest Work Yet, and while I’ve only given it a couple solid, straight-through listens so far I think it very well may be. “Bloodless” might be my favorite Andrew Bird song ever, and it is far from being the lone highpoint. The multi-instrumental virtuoso seems to be at his best on every instrument, and his voice actually sounding better than ever here. Other favorites on the record are “Don The Struggle”, “Fallorun”, and “Bellevue Bridge Club”.

Quivers may have one of my favorite songs this year. It’s a shimmering guitar-pop that from the outset has a U2-esque quality with it’s steady, insistent rhythm and and bright guitars. “You’re Not Always On My Mind” builds into a beautiful song, and it has certainly struck me more than their previous material. The Australian quartet is certainly a band to watch for in the near future.

Glen Hansard, Strand of Oaks, illuminati hotties, and Cochemea definitely among my favorites this week. To close things out, I think it needs to be said that illuminati hotties is the best bandname to come along since The Dandy Warhols.

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Tracklist:
Greys – These Things Happen
illuminati hotties – I Wanna Keep Yr Dog
Quivers – You’re Not Always On My Mind
Strand of Oaks – Visions
Man of Moon – Ride the Waves
Marissa Nadler, Stephen Brodsky – For The Sun
Perry Farrell – Pirate Punk Politician
Kool Keith – Blast
Ibibio Sound Machine – I Need You To Be Sweet Like Sugar (Nnge Nte Suka)
The Budos Band – Veil of Shadows
Cochemea – Mescalero
Maria Magdalena – Tropic
Sinkane – Everybody
Fakuta – Juntapena
Lady Lamb – Deep Love
Andrew Bird – Cracking Codes
Better Oblivion Community Center – My City
Josh Ritter – Old Black Magic
Jenny Lewis – Little White Dove
The Lumineers – Gloria
Craig Finn – Something to Hope For
Glen Hansard – Fool’s Game
Karen O & Dangermouse – Turn the Light
John Vanderslice – Enter the Void

The Fortnightly Playlist, March 24th, 2019

Well, someone has to be willing to champion some of the weirder music, right? This edition of the playlist does really go all over the place stylistically. It kicks off with a double shot of Ibibio Sound Machine, and twists and turns its way through Funk, Afrobeat, Electro, Thrash, Balkan Folk, Americana, Modern Rock, Math Rock, Indie Folk-rock, Hip-Hop, R&B, and Desert Blues.

Listen Here!

Seattle-based, gypsy-thrash band, Kultur Shock have released their latest album, D.R.E.A.M. Kultur Shock have never been a band to shy away from their roots or their message, and this record is no different. It kicks things right off with “Refugee”. A driving punk song railing against the selfish and prejudiced treatment immigrants receive in the US, and no one escapes the scathing indictment… “And what about you, my correct friend on the left? Would you like to hang out or see our children on a playdate?”  Musically, this is a relentless record. Driving guitar, screaming fiddle, a wide array of vocal stylings, and a tight rhythm section.

Rosie Tucker’s new record is beautiful. It’s an emotionally rich album that feels personal, but it also is full of humor and wit. I have to say her work has an honest feel to it. Throughout the tracks you’ll find embarrassing admissions, feeling laid bare, opinions that couldn’t be said in person and ended up in songs. It’s a bold and sincere Indie-rock effort, that is really finding its way into my go-to albums this year.

Other favorites this edition are Wintersleep, Strand of Oaks, the new collaboration between Iron & Wine and Calexico, and Hatchie. Oh yeah, and I think Ibibio Sound Machine has my favorite album so far in 2019. Enjoy!

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Tracklist:
Ibibio Sound Machine – I Will Run
Ibibio Sound Machine – Just Go Forward (Ka I So)
Panda Bear – Dolphin
The Chemical Brothers – Got To Keep On
John Vanderslice – Spectral Dawn
The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality
Kultur Shock – Haram Para
Fontaines DC – Roy’s Tune
Strand of Oaks – Final Fires
Calexico, Iron & Wine – Father Mountain
Rosie Tucker – Fault Lines
The Tallest Man On Earth – The Running Styles of New York
Hatchie – Without a Blush
Wintersleep – Forest Fire
Foals – Exits
Vel The Wonder – Deep End
Gifted Gab – That Way
Solange – Almeda
Tartit – Afous Dafous
Kultur Shock – Refugee

The Fortnightly Playlist, March 10th, 2019

Looking at this finished playlist makes me realize I’ve been really into upbeat groove-based music lately. Blues and funk elements all over the place. New albums from Chaka Khan, Galactic, Kel Assouf, and Gary Clark Jr. certainly steer things in that direction, and new singles from The Black Keys, Ibibio Sound Machine, and Mdou Moctar keep up that trend.

The playlist is here

Chaka Khan’s new record came out last month, and it has some seriously good tunes. It’s her first release in 12 years, and it blends together various eras of pop music including funk, disco, and hip-hop. By now, of course, Chaka Khan is a legend known as the Queen of Funk. Her career spans back to her first release in 1973 as the lead singer of the band Rufus, and now includes 9 Rufus albums and 13 solo releases. While the new record is quite short, it is very good to know that Khan — turning 66 this month — is still giving us new material of such high quality.

One of the albums I’m really looking forward to is Ibibio Sound Machine’s upcoming third full-length release, Doko Mien. The London-based group draws on many different style of traditional and modern music in an absolutely fascinating way. There’s a reason that all three singles so far have found their way onto these playlists. I find them to be a highly unique group that manages to blend West African funk and disco with electro and post-punk like no other group I’ve come across. The band takes its name from the family history of singer Eno Williams. Though she was born in London, she spent much of her childhood in Nigeria where her mother’s native language was Ibibio.

Other favorites this week include Kel Assouf, this incredible Shakiah tune, the new Filthy Friends single, the new Black Keys single, and the new Wintersleep single.

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Chaka Khan – Don’t Cha Know
Galactic – Already
Galactic – Everlasting Light (feat. David Shaw and Nahko)
Shakiah – 3718
Vel The Wonder – Luck
Dessa – Grade School Games
Nicola Cruz – Obsidiana
Ruben Blades, Making Movies – No Te Calles
Filthy Friends – Last Chance Country
Strand of Oaks – Ruby
Hiss Golden Messenger – Watching the Wires
Cochemea – Mitote
Mdou Moctar – Kamane Tarhanin
Kel Assouf – Tenere
Gary Clark Jr – Low Down Rolling Stone
The Black Keys – Lo/Hi
Ibibio Sound Machine – Guess We Found A Way
Hiss Golden Messenger – Everybody Needs Somebody
Wintersleep – Into The Shape Of Your Heart
Black Mountain – Future Shade
John Vanderslice – Will Call