The Fortnightly Playlist, December 8th, 2019

As has become my habit, there’s an uptick in posts scheduled for December as I look back on 2019. This is the last normal edition of the year for the Fortnightly, but we’ll have 2 parts looking at 2019 favorites and then an additional post that will look back on 2019 and mix in some 2020 previews.

“I don’t want to get bitter. I want us to get better. I want us to be kinder to ourselves and to each other.” These lines from Porridge Radio’s new single “Lilac” have stuck with me the last couple days, and been running through my head a lot. It’s this simple, beautiful thought, and it so needed to be said (or sung, as it were). I’m unfamiliar with their debut album from 2016 and “Lilac” is actually their 3rd single this year, but I’m happy to have that as my first impression of the group.

In recent years, there is a trend that has been building of covering full albums. In 2015, John Vanderslice covered David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs in full, Ben Gibbard did Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque in 2017, and I highly rated Angelique Kidjo’s version of the Talking Heads classic Remain in Light. The best of these give you a different look at a classic album while still maintaining the spirit of it. There are fine lines with this practice though, because you might be simply remaking something with the new musicians or you might not manage to capture the spirit of the original. Enter Kevin Devine. I’ve been a fan of Devine since about 2011, and I’ve written about him before on this blog (though not in much depth). Devine chose to give us his band’s take on Nirvana’s Nevermind. It’s no joke to take on a record that captured lightning in a bottle the way this record did in 1991. Devine remains pretty true to the original here. Arrangements stick to the intentional lo-fi punk of the original, and the most noticeable difference most of the way is simply that his voice is different than Cobain’s. Through much of the record, though, I wonder if it brings enough new to the surface. Where Vanderslice brought totally new arrangements to Diamond Dogs and Kidjo emphasized the African influences of Remain in Light, Devine sticks to the script much more. It offers insight to his influences more than fresh insight into the album. High points here are tracks like “Drain You”,”Lounge Act”, and “On A Plain” (tracks that offer a little more room due to not being overplayed). Overall, I liked the record, and I’m willing to indulge Devine’s expression of love for an album that is clearly significant to him. It certainly does underscore that this album is as relevant now as ever.

While I’m on the topic of covers… Miya Folick took on an intimidating one, and she hit it out of the park. Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” is about as perfect a song as has been made in the last 20 yrs, so when an artist approaches a song like this they need to be up to the task. I hear this on the radio Friday morning, and it gave me chills. Folick said of the song, “To me the greatest songs are the ones that feel like they always existed, like they were just waiting out in the ether for someone to discover them. It makes 100 percent sense that Ben Gibbard wrote ‘I Will Follow You Into the Dark’ in 15 minutes and feels like he channeled it. The song feels like a gift given to us to cope with loss and the unknown of death. It is a deeply special song, and I felt privileged to sing it.” Miya’s version of the song was released as part of the soundtrack for the Hulu series Looking for Alaska which is set in 2005 (the same year the original song was released on Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans album).

Some other favorites in this edition are Making Movies, Beabadoobee (bonus pts for a fun name), Dream Syndicate, SONS, Caribou, and DAM.

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Fortnightly Playlist:
Teen Daze – Open
Charly Bliss – Heaven
The Shivas – If You See Me
Beabadoobee – Are You Sure
Making Movies, Frankie Negron – Patria
Antibalas – Fight Am Finish
Free Nationals, Chronixx – Eternal Light
Lucy Dacus – In The Air Tonight
Dream Syndicate – Put Some Miles On
SONS – Waiting On My Own
Dogleg – Fox
Miya Folick – I Will Follow You Into the Dark
Norah Jones, Mavis Staples – I’ll Be Gone
Caribou – Home
DJ Shadow – Slingblade
DAM – Emta Njawzak Yamma
Kevin Devine – On A Plain
Porridge Radio – Lilac

The Fortnightly Playlist, November 24th, 2019

The end of the year is closing in, and I’m starting to look more at my favorite albums of the year and considering what to write. I keep a running list throughout the year, and things move up, down, back up, back down on it as the year progresses. Some albums hit you immediately and fade, others stick with you. That can make it difficult to balance the early releases with the latecomers. Feel free to share some of your favorites!

Sometimes there’s so many releases, that I’ll have my attention away from a band for awhile. And then I’ll turn on their most recent album and think, “wait, this came out 6 months ago, and how have I not been listening to it non-stop?!” Making Movies was like that this year. Ameri’kana was release back in late may, and before it’s release I included the first single in a playlist last spring. Somehow, my attention got pulled away to other releases, and I’m only now giving the album a good straight-through listen (actually, I’m on my 4th straight-through listen as I write this). The Kansas City band blends rock, cumbia, psychedelia, American roots and son cubano beautifully. Their record 2 yrs ago, I Am Another You, caught my attention and jumped into my top 10 records that year. Ameri’kana tops it. They weave between styles so well, and it makes the album ideal for a straight through listen.

If you’re familiar with this blog, then you know that I’m a big fan of the Doomtree and the various solo and side projects of the Minneappolis rap-collective. The latest release out of the Doomtree camp is Dessa’s live album performed with the Minnesota Orchestra. This album is amazing. The setlist for the show was curated so well, and the adaptations to orchestral arrangements are beautiful and intense. Sometimes a project like this can come off as a novelty, but Dessa loses none of her personality and engagement with her audience. You could make an argument that, stylistically, Dessa is the most versatile rapper of Doomtree. She’s more willing than the others to step outside of hip-hop, and excel in all areas. This collection shows the strength of her solo catalogue now, and it’s among the strongest of the group.

Other favorites in this collection are Wye Oak, Moses Sumney, Rudy Willingham, The Shivas, Mudhoney, and Nada Surf. Enjoy!

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Tracklist:
Blockhead – That’s How He Got Dead
Mark Lanegan – Night Flight to Kabul
Ms Lauryn Hill – Guarding My Gates
Rudy Willingham – Pool Party
Moses Sumney – Virile
Dessa, Minnesota Orchestra – The Beekeeper
Making Movies – The Wake of the Fall (Nibiru)
Algiers – Dispossession
The Districts – Hey Jo
Charly Bliss – Supermoon
Modest Mouse – I’m Still Here
Nada Surf – Something I Should Do
Wye Oak – Fortune
Heavy Lungs – Half Full
Mudhoney – Morning in America
Drive-By Truckers – Armageddon’s Back In Town
Courtney Barnett – Keep On
The Shivas – Start A Fire
Wolf Parade – Forest Green
DJ Shadow, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon – Rain On Snow
Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny, Residente – Cantalo
Making Movies, Flor de Toloache – Tired of Giving In

The Fortnightly Playlist, November 10th, 2019

Well, it’s on the late side this time, and I haven’t written anything. I’ve especially been enjoying the new music from Michael Kiwanuka, Kele, Sudan Archives, Sturgill Simpson, SONS, and Danny Brown. I’m going to just keep it short and sweet this edition, and just leave you with the music.

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Kele – Cyril’s Blood
Sudan Archives – Limitless
Michael Kiwanuka – Hero
Automatic – Signal
Rudy Willingham – Do Your Thing
DJ shadow – Rosie
Brother Ali – Father Figures
Chance the Rapper – Town on a Hill
Sudan Archives – Iceland Moss
Danny Brown, Blood Orange – Shine
Sturgill Simpson – Sing Along
SONS – Ricochet
Lemolo – Rogue Wave
Tinariwen – Wartilla
Habib Koite – Ivazi
The Cave Singers – Take Care
Mikal Cronin – On The Shelf
Angel Olsen – New Love Cassette
Futurebirds – Waiting On a Call
The Foo Fighters – Spill

The Fortnightly Playlist,October 27th, 2019

This week I’ve happened to run afoul of highly-dedicated fans of both Lady Gaga and Kanye West on Twitter. I just happen to think that some of those big artists are more about hype and money than about art, and some fans take that personally I guess. That said, I don’t think much of Lady Gaga tweeting that “fame is prison” or Kanye spouting ignorant political statements for attention while proudly being off his meds. I think there are plenty of artists that don’t get the attention they deserve. It’s why you will from time to time see a big popstar included here, but only if I think highly of the music. This edition includes new singles from Michael Kiwanuka, Broken Bells, Julien Baker, Sudan Archives, Steve Mason, Wolf Parade, and Steve Gunn, a new collaboration from Sera Cahoone and Tomo Nakayama, and new albums from Neil Young, Joseph Arthur and Son Volt.

She’s been releasing some of my favorite music of the past couple years, so let’s talk Sudan Archives. We’re finally about to get her first full-length album after a pair of fantastic EPs from violinist and vocalist, Brittney Parks. Her Avant-garde violin playing, R&B groove, beautifully layered loops, and subtle yet powerful messaging give us a catchy and accessible sound with plenty of rewards to repeated listening. It’s complex and layered while still sounding sparse and open. I first heard “Wake Up” on the radio, and I found myself listing to her self-titled debut EP on repeat. In her singles and EP’s, every single track has been excellent, and if she can do this in the full album format then this will be among the best of the year without a doubt. If you aren’t familiar, then I highly recommend listening to Sudan Archives (2017), and Sink (2018). The new album, Athena, is out November 1st.

Neil Young has reunited with Crazy Horse after a 7-year break. It’s all got the the feel that you want and expect from a Neil Young & Crazy Horse record, but this is a group that you would never make a something for the feel-good nostalgia of it. Young is still very presen-minded and in-touch in his writing. In the band’s typical raw sound, the record blasts an impassioned environmentalist message directly and unapologetically. Neil and Crazy Horse remain consistent in their desire for a real and raw sound. You won’t find the auto-tune or polished production here. This record sounds like it would if they played it live. There’s a balance here that maybe goes under-appreciated. Keeping that missed note on a solo or that bit where the background vocals were out of sync rather than re-recording another take, but also not making a record that sounds like a jumbled mess. There are fine lines to walk, and some will find that truthful sound a bit uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s for those who appreciate that little crackle of an old record. Personally, I think they balance pretty well on that tightrope as they maybe lean a bit one way or the other at different points.

Some particular favorites of mine this edition include L’Orange & Jeremiah Jae, Sudan Archives, Sera Cahoone & Tomo Nakayama, Son Volt, and Steve Gunn.

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Tracklist:
Michael Kiwanuka – You Ain’t The Problem
Broken Bells – Good Luck
Steve Mason – Like a Ripple
Julien Baker – Tokyo
Lucy Dacus – Dancing in the Dark
Son Volt – Broadsides
Steve Gunn – Be Still Moon
Low Roar – Darkest Hour
Jesca Hoop – Outside of Eden (feat. Kate Stables & Justis)
Buscabullo – Vamona
Renata Flores – Qam Hina
Sara Hebe – Urgente
L’Orange, Jeremiah Jae – Clay Pigeons (feat. billy woods)
Kim Gordon – Paprika Pony
Sufjan Stevens, Timo Andres – IV
Sudan Archives – Glorious
Beck – Uneventful Days
Of Monsters and Men – Vulture, Vulture
Wolf Parade – Against the Day
Joseph Arthur – I’ll Be Around
Sera Cahoone, Tomo Nakayama – Crows
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – She Showed Me Love

The Fortnightly Playlist, October 13th, 2019

What am I most excited about in music right now? Typically, I just pick 2 or 3 to write about a little more, and leave it to the music to speak for itself. There’s a lot here, and there’s a lot to say. New Lemolo, Angel Olsen, Wilco, L’Orange, and Danny Brown albums, and new singles from DJ Shadow, Kele, Songhoy Blues, and HOLY.

I’ll start here. This week, as I was driving, I heard the new single from Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke. Now he released an album under his full name earlier this year already, but now is set to release another under his other moniker, Kele. This single, which I chose as the opener for this edition of the playlist, hit me instantly. It’s a 6-minute epic, but I was ready to listen again as soon as it was done. If this is what is in store for his next release, then I’m all in on it. It’s due out on November 1st, so more to come soon!

As I was building this list, I started thinking on country vocalists. I don’t think there’s a better male country vocalist currently than Jay Farrar of Son Volt, and, as no one who reads this blog will be surprised to hear, I would swear that Brandi Carlile is the best female country vocalist working today. I tend to steer away from making “the best” statements, and try to focus on my own favorites and what I connect with. I don’t think it is possible to really stay objective or even consistent on things like this. On this I’ll stand though, I think Jay Farrar and Brandi Carlile are the best, and this edition I’ve put them right next to each other in the playlist to try and highlight this.

L’Orange. Okay, so I came in late on this North Carolina beatmaker. Last year his album with Solemn Brigham, Marlowe, ranked as my 3rd favorite album of the year, and I’ve been filling myself in a bit on his back catalogue (both solo, and his collaborations with different rappers). He’s built his reputation sampling early jazz records and vintage radio broadcasts, and this new album with Jeremiah Jae is another beauty. L’Orange tends to make his albums as a genre of film. Marlowe was a crime drama that had a dry wit to it, and Complicate Your Life With Violence is like a war movie with apocalyptic tones. So far, the track that has stood out most to me, and which I’ve included here, is “Cool Hand” with multiple samples of Elmore James’ classic “Anna Lee”. I don’t know of another DJ out there sampling the way that L’Orange does, and creating a cinematic story in the same way. Listening to a L’Orange record is like listening to a radio-drama.

Are we halfway through October? What albums are your favorites so far this year?

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Tracklist:
Kele – Between Me and My Maker
Temples – The Howl
Songhoy Blues – Meet Me In The City
Brittany Howard – 13th Century Metal
Great Grandpa – Mono no Aware
HOLY – You shine on me (feat. Boys)
Lemolo – Heart to Hand
Angel Olsen – Impasse
Wilco – One and a Half Stars
Kurt Vile, The Sadies – Baby’s Arms
Son Volt – Holding Your Own
The Highwomen – Wheels of Laredo
Hiss Golden Messenger – Bright Direction (You’re a Dark Star Now)
Just Mustard – Seven
Ex Hex – Rainbow Shiner
Death Valley Girls – Dream Cleaver
Sheer Mag – Blood from a Stone
Mikal Cronin – Shelter
Sault – Living In America
L’Orange, Jeremiah Jae, Chester Watson – Cool Hand
Danny Brown – Change Up
DJ Shadow – Urgent, Important, Please Read (feat. Rockwell, Knuckles, Tef Poe, Daemon)

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

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