an attempt to process current events through music.

It’s on everyone’s mind. It’s in front of our faces on every screen. I believe that over time music can help us see different perspectives. That it can be a window into parts of our culture that we don’t always see ourselves. I think there is context here that can help us understand how we came to be where we are. I think there’s something important here. Please take a little time to listen.

Listen here.

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https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6ktiRqeJDljwATyULrc80a?si=eTYlDlHYQK6TGzcSTnd7eg

The Fortnightly Playlist, May 24th, 2020

Back with a bit of everything. There’s a couple good collaborations in the mix this time around including this project by Haley Henderickx and Max Garcia Conover as well as new music from a project called Bronson (ODESZA and Golden Features). A bit of psychadelic bluegrass, some art rap, quiet ballads, and rowdy punk anthems hopefully compiled in a way that it isn’t too jarring. The usual, I guess.

Listen on spotify here.

I’ve been especially into the new Moses Sumney album and what has been released so far of the new Smokey Brights album. Also, really enjoying the new IDLES single (and the video with it), and the new Empress Of. Enjoy!

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Finn Andrews – Body of Light
The National – Never Tear Us Apart
Empress Of – Bit of Rain
Bronson – VAULTS
Ghostpoet – Nowhere to Hide Now
Little Simz – one life, might live
Yves Tumor – Gospel For A New Century
Residente – Antes Que el Mundo Se Acabe
Waxahatchee – Fire
Perfume Genius – Without You
Moses Sumney – Bless Me
Soccer Mommy – Circle the Drain
Eliza Shaddad – Pure Shores
Car Seat Headrest – Weightlifters
Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death
IDLES – Mr. Motivator
Mitski – Cop Car
Sibille Attar – Hurt Me
Damien Jurado – Fool Maria
Haley Henderickx, Max Garcia Conover – Slow Talkin’
Bow Thayer – It’s Time to Wake Up
Phoebe Bridgers – Kyoto
Smokey Brights – Save Us Sarah
Moses Sumney – before you go

The Fortnightly Playlist, May 10th, 2020

Hello again. There’s some great music in this edition. Some that i see likely to be among my favorites for the year. Also, we’ve got a lot of music from around the world here, and I always enjoy discovering and sharing artists from outside my typical realm of experience. Everything here is a really good representation of what I’ve been listening to lately.

Listen on Spotify

Since his 2017 debut album, Aromanticism, there’s been a lot of excitement around Moses Sumney. I was admittedly slow to pick up on the album, and then found a lot of others listing it among their year-end favorites. When the EP Black in Deep Red was released in 2018, I knew I he was an artist to watch. Certainly no letdown here. Grae: Part 1 is an incredible album. Sumney is someone who thinks through all aspects of record. The writing, the visuals, the overarching themes, the music itself are all part of his impressive skillset. In fleshing it all out, he’s not afraid to bring in collaborators. This record credits over 40 collaborators. Not just musicians, but production and visual artists coming together on this masterpiece.

Alison Mosshart has established herself in the past couple decades as a fierce rock powerhouse with Discount, The Kills, and The Dead Weather. Now we have our first taste of her as a solo artist with this new single, “Rise”. It’s a slowburning, moody rocker full of swagger that builds perfectly. Looking forward to hearing more from Mosshart.

Other favorites of mine in this edition are Nicola Cruz, Richie Spice, Joensuu 1685, Chuck Prophet, and Throwing Muses.

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tracklist:
Half Waif – In August
Childish Gambino – 35.31
Polyrhythmics – Digital Cowboy
Richie Spice – Valley of Jehoshaphat (Red Hot)
Lila Ike – I Spy
Nicola Cruz – Levanta Muertos
Moses Sumney – Colouour
Superocean – When You’re Around
Death By Denim – Jump to Mars
HAIM – The Steps
Woods – Strange to Explain
Chuck Prophet – Marathon
Alison Mosshart – Rise
Throwing Muses – Dark Blue
EOB – Shangri-La
Smokey Brights – Dance Until We Die
Car Seat Headrest – Hollywood
Moses Sumney – Neither/Nor
DakhaBrakha – Sonnet
Joensuu 1685 – Hey My Friend (We’re Here Again)
Damien Jurado – The End of The Road

The Fortnightly Playlist, April 26th, 2020

I haven’t been writing a whole lot for these lately, but this time… I’m going to also not write a lot. I’ll get right down to it. In addition to the new music I’ve got here, I’ve also been listening to a lot of Television, Damien Jurado, and Blind Willie Johnson. In particular, I’ve been enjoying the new Tomo Nakayama album, this new single from Mint Royale, and this new tune from Lee Fields & The Expressions.

Enjoy!

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tracklist:
Glass Animals – Young and Beautiful
Ceu – Carinhoso
Making Movies – Accidente
Ana Tijoux – Antifa Dance
Acid Arab – Club DZ
Mint Royale – Animal
Holy Fuck, Nicholas Allbrook – Free Gloss
Tomo Nakayama – Get To Know You
Laura Marling – Held Down
Menahan Street Band, Saundra Williams – There’s A New Day Coming
Lee Fields & The Expressions – Regenerate
Steve Gunn – Motion Pictures (For Carrie)
Pearl Jam – River Cross
Ride, Petr Aleksander – Clouds of Saint Marie
Chromatics – Nocturne
Purity Ring – peacefall
Iceage – Lockdown Blues
Shinyribs – Stay Home
Walter Martin – Quarantine Boogie

The Fortnightly Playlist, April 12th, 2020: Returning

Well, the world’s gone crazy. Not entirely unexpected. We’ve lost some artists that mean something to us. Things don’t look great going forward in a lot of ways. There are few ways to feel connected to our community right now. What are you listening to? What helps you feel connected?

We’ve lost some artists in the last couple weeks that really hit me. Adam Schlesinger passed away on April 1st from COVID-19 at 52 years old. Schlesinger was something of a genius for pop hooks. His most well-known project is Fountains of Wayne, but he also was known for groups like Ivy, and Tinted Windows. He wrote music for film and TV as well, most popularly the title song for the movie “That Thing You Do”.

Bill Withers passed on March 30th from heart complications at age 81. Withers wrote timeless classics like “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Lean On Me”, “Use Me” and “Lovely Day”. Songs. Stevie Wonder disucusses Withers’ songwriting and singing in this speech, and I think he really says it perfectly. You could feel every word that Withers wrote and sang, and the truth is that his works remain relevant regardless of time and place. Beautifully universal. I highly recommend watching this video of Withers’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech in 2015, and also this one of one of the performances from that night.

When the new came that John Prine was suffering from COVID-19, there was sort of a bracing for the worst. Of Course, John having been a longtime smoker, and having battled cancer twice was not in the best position to fight a virus that attacks the lungs. It seemed his battle was up the steepest of hills, but we all held our breath said a prayer for John Prine. He passed away on April 7th. John was one of the best storytellers we’ve ever known. His storytelling continues to give us gifts through the many storytelling songwriters that name him as an inspiration. Numerous beautiful tributes are emerging now as these writers record from their homes. NPR collected a few here, and Brandi Carlile performed a cover for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

So I’ve placed these artists among the new music I’m featuring on this list. Hopefully, you find some encouragement from what I have collected here. In this list are new albums from Pearl Jam and from Childish Gambino, there are Tears for Fears covers from Making Movies and Lemolo, and new singles from Smokey Brights, Damien Jurado, Mark Lanegan and Robyn Hitchcock. This is a lot of what I’ve been listening to lately. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay home as much as you can, and let’s enjoy the music together from a distance.

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tracklist:
Malmo – Farewell Roaring Ocean: The Inevitable End, Pt. III
Damien Jurado – Alice Hyatt
Grimes – Delete Forever
Robyn Hitchcock – Sunday Never Comes
Fountains of Wayne – I’ll Do The Driving
Fountains of Wayne – Hey Julie
Fountains of Wayne – Bright Future in Sales
Pearl Jam – Quick Escape
Kikagaku Moyo – Mushi No Uta
Mark Lanegan – Skeleton Key
Bombay Bicycle Club – Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)
Anna Burch – Party’s Over
Iji – Something to Say
Polica – Steady
Childish Gambino – 19.10
Hollis – All My Weight
Smokey Brights – I Love You, But Damn
Lemolo – Mad World
Making Movies – Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Mavis Staples – All In Together
John Prine – Hello In There
John Prine  – People Puttin’ People Down
John Prine – In a Town This Size
John Prine – Boundless Love
John Prine – God Only Knows
Nathaniel Rateliff – Time Stands
Andrew Bird – Capital Crimes
Pearl Jam – 7 o’clock
Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine
Bill Withers – Use Me
Bill Withers – Lovely Day
Bill Withers – Lean On Me

Why was there no post over the weekend?

Well, you might expect that with much of the country stuck at home, that I’d have had a nice long playlist of music. I sort of feel like we are the last busy people in my area. Both my wife and I are still working. She is on the frontlines as she is an RN in the ICU and is caring for Coronavirus patients every day. I am still working as well because it turns out businesses still need their forklifts functioning to keep everyone supplied with food and other essentials. In addition, we were moving house this weekend. With social distancing getting more strict, we had to turn down help and do it ourselves. So, there was no playlist as there would have been 2 days ago.

I will tell you, though, that I can offer something far better. My listening has been KEXP. They’ve always been my primary source for the music I share here, and lately they have been an absolute lifeline. Listen Live Here. This is not a programmed playlist. It is live DJs programming, and they have been a necessary link to community and humanity for many people during this crisis. Live programming is better, and right now far more than ever.

Stay Well.

The Fortnightly Playlist, March 1st, 2020

Well, it’s been a busy couple weeks, but here’s a playlist. I am so excited to see a new single from Doomtree. Been waiting on that for awhile. Tons more, but I just haven’t written much this time around! Here’s the playlist:

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The Avalanches, Blood Orange – We Will Always Love You
Tame Impala – Lost in Yesterday
Parisalexa – Chocolate
Polyrhythmics – Yeti, Set, Go
Durand Jones & The Indications – Young Americans
Khruangbin, Leon Bridges – Texas Sun
Chuck Prophet – Get Off the Stage
Andy Shauf – Try Again
Sotomayor – Esta vez
Mint Royale – Glitter
Doomtree – Five Alive
Aesop Rock – Rogue Wave
Bicurious – I Don’t Do Drugs, I Just Sweat A Lot
Genn – Duda Dance
Pearl Jam – Super Blood Wolf Moon
Best Coast – Different Light
Wolf Parade – Wandering Son
Sharon Van Etten – Beaten Down
Eris Drew – Fluids of Emotion
Thievery Corporation – Sweet Tides (Symphonik Version)
Mdou Moctar – Ibitlan
Hot Snakes – I Shall Be Free

The Fortnightly Playlist, February 16th, 2020: Covers, Reimaginings, and Samples

Doing something a little different this time around…

Now this is far from exhaustive. I’ll tentatively say this is a part one because I could easily feature many more songs in this. It is something that I may revisit again. What I have here is a collection of some favorite covers and samplings alongside the originals.

Now we know some of the greatest samplers are in the golden age of hip-hop, but in some cases this is why those records are unavailable on streaming sites. De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Risin’ is perhaps the greatest example. The overwhelming amount of samples woven together in a genius record led to so many lawsuits that the group lost money on the masterpiece. A vinyl copy of the record now runs about $180 because of this. I have imagined many times coming across a cheap copy at a garage sale where someone doesn’t realize what they have. In the playlist today, I’ve not included a best of sampling, but just a few favorites of my own. It’s just that perfect sampling is can set the stage just right. Whether it is deep and lyrically dense or a party track, the right sample selection can make or break the song.

Covers are a tricky thing. Does it make you hear the song differently than the original? Does it add something or change the way you think about the song? Now in some instances the approach to a song may go so far that it isn’t the same song anymore. It’s not so much a cover as it is a full on reimagining of the song. Where the line is on this is blurred of course, but for me one key aspect is whether that main vocal melody remains intact. An examply from this playlist is Charles Bradley’s version of “Stay Away” which is so unrecognizable from the Nirvana original that I wouldn’t call it a cover anymore. I love both versions of course, but you can hardly call them two versions of the same song. Some have told me that Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings version of “This Land is Your Land” is also in this category, but personally I still think that is a cover.

Of course, there are some of those that I just had to include. Angelique Kidjo’s reimagining of the entire Talking Heads album, Remain in Light, is always a favorite, and on “Born Under Punches” she brings power to the song that you don’t hear in the original. And on “The Globe”, Mick Jones famously samples is own wild yell from the intro of “Should I Stay or Should I Go”.

There is plenty of new music being released, and I’ll return to featuring that again next edition of the Fortnightly. Hope you enjoy this one. There are a million other songs I could have included here, but I may do this again. What are some of your favorite covers and samples?

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tracklist:
Woody Guthrie – This Land is Your Land
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – This Land is Your Land
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – The Game Gets Old
Akala – Mr. Fire in the Booth
Soundgarden – Smokestack Lightning
Howlin’ Wolf – Smokestack Lightnin’
Aretha Franklin – Chain of Fools
Spanglish Fly – Chain of Fools
Amy Winehouse – You Know I’m No Good
Spanglish Fly – You Know I’m No Good/Chica Mala Mambo
Bob Marley – Redemption Song
Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer – Redemption Song
John Vanderslice – Rebel, Rebel
David Bowie – Rebel, Rebel
David Bowie – The Man Who Sold The World
Nirvana – The Man Who Sold The World
Nirvana – Stay Away
Charles Bradley – Stay Away
Talking Heads – Born Under Punches
Angelique Kidjo – Born Under Punches
M.I.A. – Paper Planes
The Clash – Straight to Hell
The Clash – Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Big Audio Dynamite – The Globe
The Kinks – You Really Got Me
Sly & The Family Stone – You Really Got Me
Gayngs – Faded High
P.O.S. – Faded

The Fortnightly Playlist, February 2nd, 2020

Over the last few years I’ve adhered to a certain set of rules of my own making for this blog. It was new music. It seems from a dip in readership that I might have found myself in a bit of a tired formula. I plan to change things up more this year. For now, here is a collection of my favorite new music out there, and it includes a number of longtime favorite bands and artists.

Let’s talk Smokey Brights. I love seeing this group live, and they get better each time. They’ve been teasing on social media that they have a big year ahead of them with a lot of new music coming soon. The first thing out of the Smokeys camp are two brilliant remixes of songs off their recent EPs. “Different Windows” is remixes by Gold Casio, and “Flash Your Lights” remixed by Rudy Willingham. Smokey Brights released two EPs in 2018 that showed off a ton of growth in their writing since their last full-length, Hot Candy, came out back in 2016. I’m looking forward to new material from them this year.

I’m a big fan of Drive-By Truckers, and I would argue there are few songwriting partnerships in music today like Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. I’ve included here a brilliant tune sung by Cooley that is a mournful commentary of our divided political landscape. They’ve never been a band for pulling punches, and they’ve been more direct in recent years. Current events being what they are, I tend to think it is the right call.

Other favorites this edition are the new Pearl Jam single, Wye Oak, Gorillaz, Polica, Algiers, Andy Shauf and Eliza Shaddad.

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tracklist:
Andy Shauf – Changer
Eliza Shaddad – One Last Embrace
Gary Clark Jr – This Land [remix featuring The Roots]
Pearl Jam – Dance of the Clairvoyants
Ghostpoet – Concrete Pony
Gorillaz – Momentary Bliss (feat. slowthai & Slaves)
Smokey Brights – Different Windows (Gold Casio remix)
Smokey Brights – Flash Your Lights (Rudy Willingham remix)
Moby – Power is Taken
Polica – Feel Life
Wye Oak – Fear of Heights
Nada Surf – Something I Should Do
Wolf Parade – Out of Control
Nap Eyes – Mark Zuckerberg
Torres – Good Scare
Algiers – There Is No Year
Drive-By Truckers – Grievance Merchants

Hindsight is 2019: The Fortnightly Playlist, January 18th, 2020

Well, I took a short break here. It’s been nearly a month since I posted my 2019 favorites. This year my plans are to change how I do things here a bit. There will still be plenty of new music throughout the year, but I plan on doing some different playlists as well. In this list, I’ll include music from artists we lost in 2019 (and already in 2020), some music that flew beneath my radar in 2019, and some new music from this year. Some looking back, some looking forward.

My all-time favorite band, Pearl Jam, has announced a new album and tour. Their first since 2013’s Lightning Bolt. Over the holidays they released some old Ten Club material. There were several years where the band released Christmas singles that were available only through the fan club. Over the Holidays, they released various of these songs and other rarities. I’ve included the live version of “Gimme Some Truth” and their explosive cover of The Who’s “Love, Reign O’er Me”. The new album, Gigaton, is among my most anticipated. If there’s a time and place for an aggressive Pearl Jam record, then it’s here and now.

Easily my favorite early release of 2020 is Algiers’ There Is No Year. This is a group that, for me, has always had fire to them. It’s an intense politically-conscious post-punk/industrial sound, but with a soul/gospel touch due to the amazing vocals of Franklin James Fisher.

So, when I went to see Star Wars last month, I left the theatre with a need to find a song. It was the Wonder Woman trailer that did it. It featured an amazing orchestral version of New Order’s “Blue Monday”. I found it. I’ve played it a lot lately. DC may have fumbled a lot of their film adaptations, but so far they’ve done well with this Wonder Woman. Whoever made the call to use this song deserves some credit.

Others releasing new music in 2020 are Wolf Parade, Smokey Brights, Son Volt, Andy Shauf, The Weeknd, Dan Deacon, Deserta, and Shopping. Lots to look forward to this year.

Artists who passed in 2019 and early 2020:

Ranking Roger – Roger Charlery holds a unique place in music with The Beat (or The English Beat) connecting ska and two-tone with the late 70’s-early 80’s Punk movement. After The Beat broke up, he and Dave Wakeling would form General Public and continue playing together into the 90’s. Roger had undergone surgery for two brain tumors, and was battling lung cancer when he passed away in March 2019 at 56.

Daniel Johnston – I never had drew direct influence from Johnston in particular, but with his passing I realized how many artists I love were influenced and inspired by him. Johnston is a fascinating person. He struggled throughout his life with multiple mental health issues, and was at times hospitalized due to being a danger to himself and others. His music takes a unique voice and message. Johnston was found dead of a suspected heart attack at his home in September 2019.

Dick Dale – Richard Antony Monsour certainly left his mark on American Music. His songs are instantly recognizable, and truly his alone. His title as the “King of Surf Guitar” is more accurate than other “King of…” titles. He essentially invented this style single-handedly. Dick Dale incorporated Middle Eastern and Eastern European melodies into American rock, and with his breakneck, staccato soloing created something no one else had done or ever would do again. It’s his and his alone. He “shedded” long before “shredding” was a term used in guitar playing. Dale’s parents were immigrants. His father was Lebanese and his mother was Polish. From an early age he was exposed to both of these folk traditions, and it was from this that he created some of the most instantly recognizable songs in all of American Music. Dick Dale continued touring in spite of his battle with cancer due to not being able to afford healthcare without the touring income. He never consumed alcohol or drugs, and gave up red meat in 1972 for health reasons. He passed away of heart and kidney failure at age 81 in March of 2019.

Neil Peart – Peart is a figure of legendary status in rock music. Rush is iconic, and Peart, in particular, is held as one of the greatest drummers of all-time. He was diagnosed with glioblastoma over 3 years ago, but as Rush had officially retired and the members were living private lives it was kept a closely-guarded secret until his passing on January 7th, 2020.

Shawn Smith – In 1993, with Seattle bands making waves all over the world with giants such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, a band called Brad released their debut. It was initially a one-off side-project featuring Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam on guitar. This was also the first major release that featured Shawn Smith’s vocals. Brad would become an off-and-on project, and it helped launch Shawn’s other band, Satchel, as well as his very different side-project, Pigeonhed. He would also release several solo records and EPs throughout the 90’s and on until his last EP in 2016. Shawn was a well-known figure in the Seattle scene even though he did not reach the level of recognition that his peers did nationally or globally. He was reportedly working on a new Brad album at the time of his passing in April, 2019. This tribute to Andrew Wood is a song that would be on my list of “songs that make me tear up”.

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tracklist:
Daniel Johnston – True Love Will Find You In The End
Dick Dale – Misirlou
The English Beat – Save It For Later
Rush – The Spirit of Radio
Pigeonhed – Battle Flag
Satchel – Trouble Come Down
Brad – The Day Brings
Pronouns – How to Cope With Losing Someone You Barely Know
Pearl Jam – Gimme Some Truth
Pearl Jam – Love, Reign O’er Me
Craig Finn – It’s Never Been A Fair Fight (acoustic)
Andy Shauf – Living Room
Kali Uches – 10%
The Weeknd – Blinding Lights
Dan Deacon – Sat By a Tree
Wolf Parade – Julia, Take Your Man Home
Algiers – Hour of the Furnaces
Deserta – Hide
Shopping – Initiative
The Beat – Rock The Casbah (Live)
Dick Dale – The Wedge
Pigeonhed – Fire’s Coming Down
Satchel –  Not Too Late
Brad – Through the Day
Sebastian Bohm – Blue Monday