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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Tracklist:
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.

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Tracklist:
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!

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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