Here's a quick and dirty post on the bands that I've discovered so far in 2019. To have discovered all of these in January alone feels like quite a feat!
Camp Cope is loud, aggressive, and articulate. My favorite lyric: "If I was hungry then you were starving. And he was so sick but you were dying." An ode to narcissism.
boygenuis is earnest and beautiful. I categoically don't like folk music -- boygenious approaches folk, but (at least for me) elegantly sidesteps the genre in the nick of time. My favorite lyric: "We had a great day. Even though we forgot to eat."
Billie Eilish is super interesting. Her music (and videos) are mesmerizing and unique. At first I had the urge to dismiss her as trying too hard -- the deeper I got, the more I realized that she deserved to be taken seriously. There may be something pretty special here. My favorite lyric: "If teardrops could be bottled. There'd be swimming pools filled by models."
Seoul makes you feel like you're floating. I discovered them walking through the awesome lobby of the Hudson Hotel in New York -- it was quite the combo.
What’s better than a Drake song? An awesomely executed Drake cover from an unexpected source. I’ve come across a many a Drake cover on the YouTubes -- below are my three favorites.
I have no topical reason for posting three The National videos today -- it's just something that I feel compelled to do. I find myself returning to these videos over and over -- this band is devastating.
Of note: The first video (above) features Sufjan Stevens singing backup. Also related to that same video: I was convinced for a few minutes that Eric Clapton was playing the weird harmonica/piano-hybrid thing.
How to Rob is a 1999 song from 50 Cent (that I just discovered). It's apparently what initially put 50 on everyone's radar.
Aside from being a great track, its approach is interesting: 50 envisions himself robbing the world's biggest hip hop and R&B artists (at the time), one by one. The song's Wikipedia page even lists out each artist that 50 targets (in the order in which they are mentioned):
- Lil' Kim
- P Diddy
- Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston
- Brian McKnight
- Keith Sweat
- Harlem World
- Ol' Dirty Bastard
- Foxy Brown and Kurupt
- Slick Rick
- Stevie J
- Big Pun
- Master P
- Silkk The Shocker
- Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith
- Timbaland and Missy Elliott
- Jermaine Dupri and Da Brat
- DJ Clue
- Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and RZA
- Sticky Fingaz
- Fredro Starr
- Heavy D
- R. Kelly (though not by name, is referenced within the lyrics)
- Boyz II Men and Michael Bivins
- Mike Tyson and Robin Givens
- Mister Cee
- Busta Rhymes and the Flipmode Squad
- Kirk Franklin
My favorite two lines turn out to both be fat jokes (which I normally don't condone). On Big Pun:
I'll rob Pun without a gun, snatch his piece then run
This n____ weigh 400 pounds, how he gonna catch me, son?
And on Missy Elliott:
Run up on Timbaland and Missy with the pound
Like, "You, give me the cash; you, put the hot dog down"
The song apparently won 50 both a bunch of admirers and a slew of enemies, which is not surprising. All of the lyrics are on Genius.
Today I finished the Mogul: The Life and Death of Chris Lighty podcast. I enjoyed it.
If you're not familiar with Lighty, he was a "500 pound Gorilla"-level manager of major hip hop artists. When I started the podcast, I didn't think I had heard of him, but it didn't take me long to recognise him as A Tribe Called Quest's manager that is a talking head in Michael Rapaport's outstanding documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (I vividly remember Lighty from that documentary, because he used the term "esoteric" in his interview in referring to Q-Tip, and I remember that was the first time I had heard that word used before). Lighty's was a true rags-to-riches story, which ends in a tragic suicide.
Aside from being a well-produced, thoughtful deep dive into an interesting subject, I was struck throughout the podcast by how wonderful it is that someone would take the time to tell this story. Lighty isn't a big enough name to carry a film documentary, and that's where the podcast medium really shines. It allows you to do deep dives into subjects that have (seemingly) small audiences, but using a richer medium than long-form written journalism.
Below is a trailer of the podcast.
Childish Gambino's new music video This is America is something special, to say the least.
Provocative, disturbing, and dense...while somehow still catchy. Donald Glover continues to surprise me.
I've been listening to a lot of Dawn Golden lately.
I tend to gravitate (not exclusively) towards music that feels apathetic and effortless. Golden certainly meets that criteria. His music reminds me of Bob Moses.
It only took me about 20 years to discover this Fiona Apple music video covering The Beatle's "Across the Universe." It was directed by her then boyfriend P.T. Anderson.
My god those eyes. She's haunting.
I just discovered "Sleep" by Max Richter, an 8 hour and 24 minute album described by the artist as "an eight-hour lullaby...a piece that is meant to be listened to at night." I have trouble mixing sleep with anything but the sound of a fan, but this sounds like excellent music to work to. I plan to give it a shot this week.
You can listen to the album on Amazon and Spotify (amongst other places).
Australian singer/songwriter Hayden James makes enchanting house music. I've been listening to little else over the past week, and it's left me in something of an elevated daze.
Below are three of my favorite James songs. They're all great, but "Just A Lover" is something really special.
Aside from Phoebe Bridgers' new album Punisher -- which is pretty rad -- I can't find anything new worth listening to lately.
I hate the feeling of trying to find new music that gets you excited and not being able to.
About ten years ago, I built a series of digital mix tapes, which consisted of anelectic group of songs from different artists. Each playlist had a theme, but not one that I could articulate -- the themes were more in mood and spirit than anything else. I loved these playlists, but lost them many moons ago when I switched away from my beloved Lala (RIP).
I've recently rediscovered a Google Doc where I (for some awesome yet unknown reason) wrote down each playlist's name and tracks. I've since added them to my current streaming music vendor (Spotify). I share them now with you below. I hope to keep creating these playlists going forward -- I'm oddly proud of them.