The Fortnightly Playlist, April 9th, 2017

This edition takes on a very strong dance and hip-hop feel with new releases from Jamiroquai, Goldfrapp, Talaboman, and Gorillaz. Also included are Mark Lanegan (formerly of Screaming Trees), Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys), and Saxophone virtuoso, Colin Stetson.

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I highly recommend the new record, Whiteout Conditions, by The New Pornographers. They continue a long run of consistently excellent work with this release. With their lyrically clever, musically interesting and infectious sound, they’ve produced an excellent body of work to date. I also recommend looking into the solo releases of the various members. Especially that of A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Kathryn Calder.

Enjoy,
Josh

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The Fortnightly Playlist, March 26th, 2017

The end of March. One quarter of the way through the year, and we’re almost fully into 2017 releases on this Fortnightly Playlist.

In the past year or so, I’ve featured a few tracks by some “desert blues’ artists like Bombino and Tinariwen. It’s a style that has a curious familiarity to it. Hailing from the nomadic Sahara culture from an area including Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Libya and Algeria, they have used for many generation much of the same musical structure that we find in American Blues. This time I’ve included a track by Tamikrest that demonstrates this well.

For a band to remain relevant and poignant over a long period of time says a lot about how talented they really are. Depeche Mode doesn’t just have material that has stood the test of time. They continue to write material that holds up very well. The new record, Spirit, is excellently crafted.

Canadian indie-rocker, Joel Plaskett’s, new album of duets with his father also feature here. There’s something about Solidarity that sort of tugs at the heartstrings, something intimate, but also it is a fun listen. Probably the best moments are when the two are singing together. This is a good review of the album.

Also, we have excellent new albums from singer-songwriters Sera Cahoone, Laura Marling, and Jesca Hoop, and new singles from The New Pornographers, Afghan Whigs, and The Drums. Enjoy!

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The Fortnightly Playlist, March 12th, 2017

Aaand we’re back again with another listful of diverse sounds. Once again covering as much ground as we can, stylistically speaking (and a significant amount geographically as well).

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A collaboration of note in this edition is from the new Baba Zula album, XX. The track included, Carino, features Argentine singer/rapper La Yegros, which makes for an interesting blend of styles between her and the Turkish psych-rock band.

There are 3 very longstanding, well-regarded, influential musicians with freshly released singles out now are included as well. Bob Dylan released his third single leading to his upcoming album, Robyn Hitchcock his second, and Thurston Moore released a new single just a few days ago.

Plenty of newly-released albums here for P.O.S., Minus the Bear, Valerie June, The Shins and others. And once again my 2 favorite albums so far this year – Backlash by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears and Life & Livin’ It by Sinkane – are both included.

Cheers,
Josh

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The Fortnightly Playlist, February 26th, 2017

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We’re doing the usual genre bouncing with this list. New singles out from Laura Marling, Bob Dylan, The Dandy Warhols, and others give us a lot to look forward to this spring.

Sampha has his first full-length album, but he’s far from a newcomer. He’s done guest work and production work for Kanye, Drake, Solange and many others. Most recently, he produced Solange’s A Seat At The Table last year. His record, Process, is well worth a listen.

Sera Cahoone offers a very beautiful and sad song as her second single released from her upcoming album, From Where I Started. You can read more about the song and Sera Here.

I want to mention Sinkane’s Life & Livin’ It. It’s been an early favorite this year, and I highly recommend giving the full album a listen. The Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears new album, Backlash, is one that could be a favorite this year as well.

Cheers,
Joshhaiku-garden-waver5-1mali

 

The Fortnightly Playlist, February 12th, 2017

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The new full-length record from Chuck Prophet is a highlight this edition. His brand of clever, guitar-driven, hooky, singable rock is both accessible and thoughtful. We’re still early on in 2017, but Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins is among my favorites so far this year.

Karsh Kale is also a recent favorite. Up came out early last year, so I’m a bit disappointed that I only found it now. Karsh Kale has an amazing and unique blend of Indian folk and modern dance beats. His music is very percussion heavy, and mixes traditional methods with modern in a way that just fits together so well.

Also featured this week are local acts like Moon Duo and Dude York, as well new singles from well-established legends Robyn Hitchcock and Depeche Mode. a4003911402_10

The Fortnightly Playlist, January 29th, 2017

Oh no! I’ve gone Globalist?! Syria, Argentina, Poland, Finland, Canada, Colombia, Puerto Rico, UK and Australia all represented in this edition of the Fortnightly Playlist. Hmm… no African artists this time, but the list last week did have Tinariwen, and we’ll see what I come across next fortnight.

We start and end this list with Canadian artists. A mellow and meditative start with First Rain by Teen Daze, and high-energy, rock’n’roll end with North East South West by Japandroids. There’s a strong Canadian presence this time. Other high points include Utopia by Austra and new singles by Arcade Fire and The New Pornographers.

Tributes to both Prince and Bowie are here as well. Ted Leo’s cover of Heroes by David Bowie appears here, and Rogers Nelson by Argentina’s Morbo y Mambo refers to Prince’s full name.

Personal high points this time around were The New Pornographers, Brodka, Buscabulla, Lena Chamamyan and Conor Oberst.

Enjoy,
Josh

The Fortnightly Playlist, January 15th, 2017

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This edition of the Fortnightly Playlist features a number of new singles from upcoming releases; particularly from local bands. New singles from Bread & Butter, Sera Cahoone, Foxygen, Allison Crutchfield, Temples, Pond, The Rural Alberta advantage, Sloucher, and The Shins.

In 2016, La Sera came out with a record that I found a little lacking in the edginess that I found in their previous release. Started as a Katy Goodman solo project and now moving to a Husband&Wife Duo, I expected Katy’s hard rock approach and Tod’s bent toward wild guitar solos to bring a more rocking record. In the end I liked the record (Music for Listening to Music to), but it wasn’t what I expected. After touring most of the year, They came out with a new EP (Queens) at the end of September that was a mix of new material and new versions of songs from the Music for Listening to Music to Album. This was more what I was looking for. The new songs are more bass-heavy and riff-heavy, and, in my opinion, more suited to the band’s personality.

Also included is a track from the new David Bowie EP, No Plan. Rumour has it that we could see “new” Bowie material released every year for 100 yrs after his death. The new EP (released on his birthday, exactly 1 year since the release of Blackstar) fits well with last year’s record. Still a lot of quality material yet to be released.

Enjoy,
Josh

The Fortnightly Playlist, January 1st, 2017

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Happy New Year.

A lot of people seem ready to mention all the worstness of 2016; especially in regard to music. All the bad things have been said already, and I think it is fair to say that 2016 gave us a lot of good things. Bowie and Leonard Cohen somehow managed to release excellent albums that, in the end, were the best goodbyes we could ever ask for. Other long-career greats gifted us as well. Neil Young, Charles Bradley, Paul Simon and Van Morrison all released new albums this year. Some other greats broke long silences. The Stone Roses released 2 singles after over 20 years of silence, and A Tribe Called Quest released their first new material in 18 years (though the absence of Phife Dawg being notable, so there is definitely a bittersweetness there). This Fortnightly combines some of the later albums of 2016 with some singles from upcoming releases in 2017. Again, happy NewYear, and enjoy!

-Josh

The Fortnightly Playlist 2016: My Top 10 Albums

At the end of any given year, there is a period of time where we tend to reflect back on the whirlwind of events we’ve lived through in the past 365 days. This is a small slice of the music that accompanied 2016. For someone like me, it is typically difficult to cut things down to a top 10 when it comes to music. This year I started out with the intention of making regular playlists of all new music, and I found myself really engaging much more with a lot of new albums. Beyond this top 10, there are about 30-40 other artists and albums that were a significant part of my listening this year. There are 5-6 that I had a hard time not including. If I could include 16 in a top 10, then I would. The thing is that this would start to get really long… so 10 it is.

10. Bow Thayer – The Source and the Servant
This one might seem a bit unexpected given that it sort of snuck in without getting much airplay or making much of a splash. Bow Thayer is a blues/alt-country artist that I’ve followed for several years now. This new album is mostly covers of tunes originally by Dock Boggs or Mississippi Fred McDowell. Bow throws a couple originals in the middle, and in his gritty modern blues twists he made a record that really stood out for me.

9. Anomie Belle – Flux
Anomie Belle has the distinction of being my highest-ranked local album this year. I was surprised by this because it has been a great year for local music. Several might have made this list if I chose on a different day. That’s just how hard this was for me. This record stood out by being so unique. The drumlines, synths, sound-effects, a beautiful voice, and sometimes breaking through with violin, she created a beautiful album.

8. Steve Gunn – Eyes on the Lines
Steve Gunn loves playing guitar. You could give this album to any guitar player, play any song from it, and they will tell you the same. This album is full of intertwining guitar hooks, but the songs don’t sacrifice themselves to those indulgences. My favorite songs on the record are Ancient Jules and The Drop.

7. Junius Meyvant – Floating Harmonies
From the big, punchy blast of brass and strings at the start to the quieter moments like Pearl In Sandbox, this one has a lot to offer. This Icelandic Singer-songwriter has an engaging and varied sound that draws from a lot of different styles. It’s his first full-length record, and I’m excited to see where he goes from here.

6. Bombino – Azel
To me, discovering Bombino was discovering an entirely new type of music, and new way to play the guitar. I dove into his “Tuareg Blues”music this spring, and it was very rewarding. His last record, Nomad, was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and carried a distinctly heavier modern blues sound similar to The Black Keys own music. This new record is produced by Dave Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors and has a lighter sound with even some reggae aspects to it.

5. Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
In many ways, The Impossible Kid covers a dizzying amount of ground. Sometimes it’s fairly light and fun like psychoanalyzing the relationship with his cat in Kirby, or bewilderedly pondering kids these days in Lotta Years.  Other times it is more poignant. He reflects on loss and grief in Get Out of the Car. With all the ground covered, it is impressive to bring it all to a cohesive end with Water Tower and Molecules closing out an excellent rap album.

4. Steve Mason – Meet the Humans
Bright and soft and warm. Singer-songwriter, Steve Mason, put out a great record. Strong vocal melodies and good lyrics make you want to sing along. The intertwining piano and guitar lines keep it interesting with repeated listening. Favorite songs here are Water Bored and Planet Sizes

3. Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos
This album was quick to rise for me. It’s certainly one that begs to be listened to all the way through. It’s a cohesive story told through 7 perspectives. The thoroughly constructed characters feel real; like people you’ve met. Overall, you get a sense of the struggles and setbacks of normal people. You can relate to some of them. This makes it for a very interesting and thought-provoking listen.

2. Shearwater – Jet Plane & Oxbow
This is one of those rare albums to come along that you can’t find a weak spot. Every song holds up well on its own, but also lends to the big picture of the album as a whole. Jonathan Meiburg’s vocals are beautiful, and the melody of the vocal line is instantly something you want to sing along with. This would easily have been an album of the year for me if not for…

1. The Tragically Hip – Man, Machine, Poem
Back in the spring there was new music just beginning to come out from the The Hip. A new single, and the rumors of a full album. Then on the day of the official announcement we got more than we bargained for. The new album was said to be their last as it was revealed that lead singer and main songwriter, Gord Downie, had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The emotions surrounding this for the band and their fans swirled around this record. It was there in the songs. The Tragically Hip, together for over 30 years, released a beautiful, emotional record about human fragility, strength of will, dedication, and frustration.

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Special Mentions:
Several records were difficult to leave out of this, and I think are worth mentioning.
David Bowie – Black Star
The Cave Singers – Banshee
Deep Sea Diver – Secrets
Fruit Bats – Absolute Loser
Drive-by Truckers – American Band
The Dandy Warhols – Distortland
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals – Call It What It Is
Fly Moon Royalty – Delicious Trouble
Joseph Arthur – Family