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.

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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!

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tracklist:
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