The Fortnightly Playlist, August 13th, 2017

What I like to do with this is bring attention to hidden gems and lesser knowns. There are some more well-known artists in these, but I enjoy this as a way to share things that you may not hear elsewhere. This edition, I feel, does that pretty well. We’ve got some local focus this time with ODESZA, SassyBlack, Sheer Mag, Briana Marela, and Fazerdaze, and there would be more if Donormaal were on spotify yet. We’ve also got some artists from around the world; Iceland, Denmark, UK, Ghana, New Zealand and Canada are all represented. Listen on spotify here.

One project I’m certainly excited about is Shredders. This include 4 members of Doomtree; Paper Tiger, Lazerbeak, Sims and P.O.S. Two weeks ago I featured a song from their debut 3-song release. This new single has already had some hype around it as it was included in this promo for the HBO show Ballers. It’s also just an outright banger.

Catherine Harris-White aka SassyBlack is another discovery this summer that I’ve gotten very excited about. Formerly a part of the hip-hop duo THEEsatisfaction, SassyBlack’s new release shows a lot of growth in this new album, New Black Swing. Her vocal stylings are a huge highlight.

Other highlights are Fazerdaze, Nadia Reid, Sheer Mag, Public Service Broadcasting and Giants in the Trees (Krist Novoselic’s new band).

Thus far on this blog, I have refrained from making overt political statements. I have let the music speak for itself, and, by what I include, allowed my views to be known. There’s a reason that I like to include world music in some capacity each time. There’s a reason why I include so many different styles. I prefer to stretch myself with my listening habits. Listen to things outside your comfort zone, and you may gain some understanding. It’s like reading a book about something new… you learn. The events of this weekend in my country are absolutely heartbreaking. The fact that people were hurt and killed standing up against a movement of hate – and the fact that our president finds it in himself to attack anyone and everything except this movement of hate – leaves me so angry. Yesterday, I came to a point where I had to make myself turn it all off. I had to close my laptop, turn off the tv, not look at my phone… Here we are, in spite of so much hard work and sacrifice, staring at our same old demons again. I certainly don’t know how to solve this mess. For myself, I pray, and I also find inspiration and hope in the music of some of my favorite artists. At the end of this playlist, I have included a slightly older song. It is Find No Enemy from Akala’s 2009 album, Doublethink, and was also included in last year’s 10 Years of AkalaThanks for reading this far, and enduring my need for an honest post.

Josh

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The Fortnightly Playlist, July 30th, 2017

Great stuff this edition! New singles from Kele Okereke, Afghan Whigs, Briana Marela, Tori Amos and Chad VanGaalen, and new albums from Arcade Fire, Sheer Mag, and Kasabian. Listen here on Spotify.

I am excited for new music from Akala. This new project, Visions, is a bit different. It’s a five song EP that accompanies a comic book. While the song titles are simply chapter numbers, the music definitely stands strong on its own and very much fits in with his previous work. The reason he is one of my favorite artists is his passion for knowledge. His lyrics direct the listener with all kinds of literary and historical references. This gets a strong recommendation from me… and while you’re at it his other material is high quality. His 2015 album, Knowledge is Power Vol. 2, was one of my favorites that year. Here’s a link to his series of book recommendations: Akala’s Great Reads.

I’ve been surprised to see some very negative reviews of Arcade Fire’s new record, Everything Now. Overall, I found the record very satisfying. If I had to criticisize it, then I would say there is, in the middle third of the album, something of a loss of stylistic focus. The shifting genres get a little much, but that’s just the fact that not everything is going to land perfectly when you are trying to push things. I think every track holds up on its own, and also contributes to the overall theme of the album. That is what I’ve come to look forward to in an Arcade Fire album. Perhaps what bothers me is what has always bothered me about grading or ranking albums. People want to boil it down to an “out of 5 stars” or a letter grade, and it’s just not that simple. I recommend Everything Now, and I recommend at least one straight-through listen because they are the type of band to make that worthwhile.

Other personal favorites in this list are Shredders (a project by some of the Doomtree collective: Sims, P.O.S., Lazerbeak, and Paper Tiger), Phoebe Bridgers, Kasabian, and Chad VanGaalen. Also, I’d like to share a quick note of congratulations to another longtime favorite, The Tragically Hip, for receiving the Order of Canada this week.

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The Fortnightly Playlist, July 16th, 2017

Is there a song that can trasition between jazz-folk-singer-songwriter, Meklit, and electro pioneer, Gary Numan? Yes. It’s Cut Copy’s newest single, Airborne. I’m quite proud of that discovery. All that and more in the playlist this time around.

It’s always interesting to hear a very familiar voice singing an unfamiliar song. The instantly singable melodies of Lo Tom make that even more strange. It’s new, but I felt when I first heard it that I knew it. Lo Tom is a new project fronted by David Bazan with members from Pedro the Lion and Starflyer 59. The full, self-titled album dropped this week, and included here is the first single that was released, Overboard.

Jazz and soul, bright horns, fluttering strings and beautiful melodies… Ethiopian jazz, folk, singer-songwriter, Meklit. There’s so much I’ve been enjoying in her new record, When The People Move, The Music Moves Too. It’s all enhanced by the guest appearances from The Preservation Hall Horns and Andrew Bird.

Other highlights this edition are Pixx, Songhoy Blues, Salt Cathedral, This Is The Kit, and Vertebrae.

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The Fortnightly Playlist, July 2nd, 2017

Plenty of music to get through in the past couple weeks, and multiple in this edition that are currently among my favorites of the year so far. Notably missing is the new Public Enemy, Nothing is Quick in the Desert, which is not available on Spotify. The album is available to stream or download for free on their bandcamp page, and it is excellent.

Listen to the playlist here

Algiers has something plenty special about them, but there is no way around the fact that one thing stands out… that voice. Franklin James Fisher’s soaring, soulful vocals are at the forefront of the listener’s experience. Even when you try and listen to other aspects, his voice effects how you hear it. It’s haunting in the best way possible, and he manages to keep them recognizable as they shift through a wide range of styles.

The bold, hard-hitting message of Propaganda was a standout find this week. Crooked starts in immediately with cutting and critical, Crooked Ways, and keeps hitting on the same themes of cultural and political divides throughout. It has a dark feel that suits the subject matter, but still somehow maintains determined, grit-your-teeth hopefulness. I highly recommend this one.

Other highpoints this week include Making Movies, John Van Deusen, Rosi Golan, Bocafloja, Manchester Orchestra, and Roger Waters.

Until next time,

Josh

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First 1/2 Top 3

Here we are halfway through 2017. The second year of creating the Fortnightly Playlist, and the first full year of it appearing here on this blog. At this time of year, I start to think what albums have really stood out to me so far. As usual, there are more great records than I can really include, but there are a few super-standouts for me that I’ll be sharing here. There’s still 6 months left, and plenty of new music on the way, but my top 3 so far might be difficult to break into. I don’t see these dropping out of my top 10 at the year’s end for sure.

#3 – I Am Another You – Making Movies
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I was completely blindsided by this record in just the last couple weeks. Thematically, the group focuses in on stories around the immigration and social justice, and does so weaving rock, psychedelia, American roots, and various Latin styles. Incredible guitar hooks and truly fantastic latin percussion make this a great listen.

#2 – Chill, dummy – P.O.S.
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This record unlocked a lot of new music for me. I wasn’t all that familiar with P.O.S. or the Minneapolis collective, Doomtree, until hearing P.O.S. do a live set on the radio earlier this year. I really connected with this record, and from there I springboarded into the records that Doomtree had made as a collective, as well as the numerous solo projects of all its members. This record shifts through intense and atmospheric and back again so smoothly, and it holds my interest. I find myself often listening to it straight through in its entirety.

#1 – Life and Livin’ It – Sinkane
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Brooklyn-based, London-born, Sudanese Sinkane incorporates such a broad variety of sounds that it is no surprise that this one stands out for me. Catchy keyboard and guitar hooks draw you in on each track. Bright afro-rock, pop, shoegaze, reggae and blues all identifiable at moments in this unique, funky blend, and yet it has a coheseive sound. It covers so much ground, but doesn’t lose itself.

This is my top 3 so far this year, and I’d love to discuss these and other records in the comments. Please, share your own favorites! Here’s a short playlist with a few tracks from each of these, and we’ll be back to The Fortnightly Playlist next week.

Top 3 so far

Josh

The Fortnightly Playlist, June 18th, 2017

It’s a little hard to even keep up with all the new music right now. Several of the albums featured this time I still haven’t listened to fully. This edition featuress new records from Ani DiFranco, Making Movies, Pickwick, Ride and Jeremy Ylvisaker, and new singles from Arcade Fire, ODESZA, Queens of the Stone Age and Bomba Estereo. I’m excited, and I think this is one of the best lists I’ve put together.

Listen Here!

One of the records that I’ve been looking forward to listening to in full is the Planetarium project that came out last week. The project features Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner (The National), American contemporary classical music composer and arranger Nico Muhly, Sufjan Stevens, and Sufjan’s longtime drummer James McAlister. Everything I’ve heard so far is a beautiful blend between classical and modern.

A big discovery for me this week was Kansas City’s Latin/Rock quartet, Making Movies. Catchy Latin grooves, huge rock guitar riffs, high-energy, and a bold message make them one of the most attention-grabbing acts I’ve encountered this year. I highly recommend their new album, I Am Another You.

Enjoy,

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The Fortnightly Playlist, June 4th, 2017

We get Dance-y, rootsy and rockin’ this time with new singles from Elton John & Jack White, Arcade Fire, and Portugal The Man, and new records from Dan Auerbach, Kevin Devine, Justin Townes Earle, and !!! (Chk Chk Chk).

Listen here!

There has been a certain amount of buzz around Dan Auerbach 2nd solo record (his first being 8 yrs ago). It is a definite shift from the gritty, rambling blues-rock of The Black Keys, and the similar sound he’s brought out in producing other artists. Waiting On a Song has a more acoustic, poppy, early rock’n’roll/rockabilly sound. What comes to mind very strongly for me is Buddy Holly.

I first became aware of Kevin Devine in 2010 when I heard How This All Ends by Bad Books (Devine & Manchester Orchestra). I stumbled upon the song without being previously aware of either Manchester Orchestra or Devine’s music, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I strongly recommend checking out his Devinyl series which he has done with various other artists; covering each other, singing duets, and writing songs together. Devine’s new record, Instigator, is excellent modern rock.

The new Portugal, The Man single, Feel It Still, never fails to make you want to dance. Justin Townes Earle offers an amazing range of Country, Blues, Jazz, Blugrass in his latest record, Kids in the Street. There’s plently to look forward to with new singles and upcomin albums from Arcade Fire and Ride. And, of course, who doesn’t enjoy to end with a little humor from Nada Surf?

Until next time,

Josh

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The Fortnightly Playlist, May 21st, 2017

There’s a return to world music in this edition. Artists from Mali, Tunisia, Zimbabwe and Mexico are all featured here. Also, we have newly released Prince, and new tracks from The National, Roger Waters, Fleet Foxes, and Courtney Barnett.

Listen to the playlist here

Emel Mathlouthi is a Tunisian singer-songwriter. In 2012, her politically-charged songs were adopted as anthems of the revolution in her country, and she was forced to leave when this put her under threat. Her new album, Ensen (Human), was recorded in 7 different countries.

It’s hard to say exactly how a death of a musician you love affects you. It’s not a friend you ever knew personally, but you also feel like you were influenced by them. I have spent countless hours listening to Chris Cornell’s music.
The space needle went dark Thursday night as Seattle mourned the loss of yet another iconic voice. He struggled with depression for many years, and his openness about the topic was impactful to many with similar struggles. I included his new single, The Promise, to close out the list. It’s a sad loss of someone that was loved by his family, friends and fans.

Until next time,

Josh

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The Fortnightly Playlist, May 7th, 2017

There’s so much new music out in the last few weeks! This is a longer list than usual, and I made some cuts to it. Gorillaz, Feist, Pond, Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees), and Woods all have new records out. Some of these I’ve featured already with the singles, and now the albums have been released. Also, we’ve gotten lots of new singles out.

Listen to the new playlist here!

There are certain bands that you know the music will always have new layers in the context of an album. Gorillaz are definitely one of those. Damon Albarn has a way of weaving through genre after genre with the aid of a myriad of diverse guests. Humanz is no exception, and there’s always a lot of digging to do. I feel like I could give the record a few more listens for a proper review, but for now I recommend it highly.

The formation of The Levee Walkers last year was a big deal for me. Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Duff McKagan (Guns’N’Roses), and Barret Martin (Screaming Trees) played an Iggy & The Stooges tribute show about 2 yrs ago from the roof of Pike Place Market along with Mark Arm (Mudhoney) as lead vocals. It was thought that this was a one-off show at the time. Then last year Freedom Song/Tears of the West appeared with guest vocalist Jaz Coleman. This time McCready/McKagan/Martin have gotten Puerto Rican singer/songwriter Raquel Sofia to join them with great results.

It had been years since the last Grandaddy album, and their reunification showed they still had exactly what fans loved. What began as a group of teenagers had matured a lot in the decade-long absence, and it was exciting to see them touring again. Sadly, on May 2nd bassist, Kevin Garcia, passed away after a massive stroke. Their next tour date was supposed to be tomorrow (May 8th) at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle. It seems right to close out this edition with a song from their latest album, Last Place.

Until next time,

Josh

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The Fortnightly Playlist, April 23rd, 2017

There’s something of a back and forth this edition between rootsier sound and more electronic, modern sound. Between DJs like The Chemical Brothers, Lusine and Jai Wolf, and the roots, blues and soul of Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’, Jake Xerxes Fussell, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Listen Here!

A couple days ago as I was driving into work, Fire by Beth Ditto came on the radio. I have not cranked the radio that loud that early in the morning for a long time. She’s got a bold, soul voice, and the song has a great, infectious groove. It’s definitely a favorite in this edition.

It would not be right to post this without mentioning the new single by a pair of blues giants, Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’. Don’t Leave Me Here Delivers exactly what you would want from these two. The tight blues riffs and the wailing harmonica offer us blues at its finest. Two absolute masters doing what they’ve done for over 50 yrs.

New singles from Feist, Waxahatchee, and POLICA, and new full albums from Bread & Butter, Low Roar, Jake Xerxes Fussell and Todd Albright round things out.

Enjoy,

Josh

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