It’s been a pretty good week for new releases. We got new tunes from The National, Prawn, Florist, P!nk. We even got a new track from a favorite of mine, Tori Amos, though I can’t say I’m crazy about the song. It feels too sterile, too produced, to hit me in the gut the way Tori normally does. And I suppose you could say the same for the new P!nk track — it is fairly predictable, a standard pop tune. But her voice is strong enough to pull me in.
If you haven’t had a chance to check any of these songs out, give ’em a listen. And happy Friday!
I’ll be back in the PNW in a couple of weeks, and by some crazy awesome luck, I’ll also be seeing two fantastic bands perform while I’m there: Filthy Friends, and Wimps. When I booked my airfare eight months ago, I hoped that there would be some good shows taking place while I was out that way. There’s always great music happening in Portland and Seattle, but I didn’t expect to see some of my faves. When I found out Filthy Friends (the supergroup headed by Corin Tucker and Peter Buck) was performing in Eugene, I grabbed tickets. We’d planned a day in Eugene anyway to check out the local record shops, so it worked out perfectly. And then I found out Wimps would be opening for them — hooooo, that’s gonna be a good show.
It’s almost time for my vacation in the Pacific Northwest, so I’ve been busy creating playlists of all my favorite PNW bands, and deciding what albums off my want list I’d like to look for when I visit all those amazing record shops in Portland and Seattle. I’ve had so much awesome ’90s music in my head that I thought I’d share a few of my favorites for this week’s Friday Five. Now, I could easily just lay down five Sleater-Kinney tracks, because you know they’re my favorite PNW band. But I’ll refrain. For now.
I’ve been trying to slow myself down a little these days. I’m spending less time online and more time outdoors. I’m trying to rush less and pause more and allow time to pass at its own pace instead of urging it forward. And with this change, I’ve found myself drawn to more soothing music. I used to require the urgency of punk or good, driving indie rock to get me through the workday. But these days, I fill my eight hours with a softer sound (with the occasional burst of Sleater-Kinney for the moments that need some electricity).
For this week’s Friday Five, I thought I’d share some of the quieter sounds I go to when I’m trying to stay grounded in the moment.
Tomorrow is Canada Day, so I thought it might be nice to highlight some of my favorite Canadian songs for this week’s Friday Five. These are songs that are about Canada, or places in Canada, or being Canadian, or just have that distinctive Canadian vibe that I love so much.
I’m new to Gordi, but dang, I’m loving the Imogen Heap vibes. I spent Wednesday listening to hours of her music, and I’m hooked.
Charly Bliss – “Westermarck”
Fun tune, super fun video.
SOAR – “Fort Funston”
I kinda love music that references places (which is one of the reasons why I love Canadian music — Canadian musicians aren’t afraid to write about the places they know). Specificity never hinders music, in my opinion. So I’m digging this new tune by SOAR.
It’s late. I should be getting some sleep since I’m taking a trip tomorrow to visit a good friend and see a concert, but I couldn’t skip posting five bangers for you guys. This week has been flush with good tunes — so many that I have to save some for next week’s list.
I’m starting off with the brand new tune by Torres. I’ve been waiting for this for AGES. “Sprinter” was one of my favorite albums of 2015, and every time I listen to it, I just fall to pieces. It’s a stunning record. And I’ve been whining for months and months on Twitter, wondering when Torres would put out some new material.
And then she dropped her new track, “Skim.” I bounced around in my cube like a maniac all day. I posted gifs of a vintage Whitney Houston screaming and dancing. I was SHOOK. And the song is everything I had hoped it would be. The video is not exactly SFW, so if you’re worried about that, head on over to Spotify to stream it. But listen to it. You have to.
Call me the whitest hipster ever, but I can’t help it. Sam Beam’s voice just does something to me. I actually got teary toward the end of this video, y’all. But then again, I think that a lot of Iron & Wine songs make me cry. I’m a sensitive hipster.
Yes, the rumors are true. After many months, the Friday Five is making its triumphant return! Okay, well, triumphant might be a tad dramatic for a feature that probably has a total readership of two (my wife and my mother). But it’s long overdue, especially because of the constant flood of incredible music that this otherwise-horrid year has been producing. I’ve had to cut back significantly on my vinyl purchases (that whole building a new house thing, plus the ever-increasing cost of new vinyl), but I keep a list of everything I want so that I can slowly peck away at it when I get gift cards or have a few extra bucks. And that list is HUGE.
This week’s selections are all new releases from some excellent bands. Click on the name of the band if you like what you hear, and consider supporting them with a purchase.
The newest record from Adult Mom, “Soft Spots,” has been in heavy rotation for the past few weeks. It’s an incredibly strong, solid offering, and I love the way the sound expands and contracts and expands again as the album progresses. This song takes the cake, though.
I hadn’t heard Big Thief before the release of their recent hit, “Mythological Beauty.” I consider that one of my favorite songs of the year, and hoped that each subsequent track premiered would also drag me in and slay me with equal brutality. I can’t say “Mary” destroyed me quite as completely as “Mythological Beauty,” but I’m weakened and crawling.
Tall Friend is another new band to me, but I was immediately drawn to the sound. It reminded me of Told Slant, and O, and Florist. And then I found out that Emily Sprague (of Florist) was actually involved in the performance and production of Tall Friend’s upcoming album, so it suddenly made sense. This song alone has me itching to click that pre-order button.
I’m down for anything The Decemberists do. When they first announced their collaboration with Olivia Chaney, Offa Rex, I knew that I’d love it. The band is really at its best when paying homage to the sea shanty or Appalachian music, and Offa Rex continues in that tradition, covering old British folk standards. Seriously, if you didn’t know any better, you would think “Blackleg Miner” was a bonus track from “Castaways and Cutouts.”
There’s been a lot of great music coming out recently. I’ve accumulated quite a list of tracks over the past month or so. Here are five that I’ve been enjoying. What has everyone else been listening to these days?
Like many of you, I’m still reeling from the results of Tuesday’s election. I cry, I go to work, I read reports of violence and hatred, I binge-eat, I cry some more, I have long conversations with my spouse and my friends about what happens now, I cry again, I sleep fitfully. Repeat.
The nation is broken right now. And many of us are concerned. Finding comfort can be challenging, but we still have music, and music is comfort to me. When my grandmother passed away almost two years ago, Sleater-Kinney helped guide me through the darkness. “No Cities to Love” had come out just weeks before, and the urgency and power of that album allowed me to feel in a way that moved me forward instead of back. I listened to little else. Music can heal. It can speak for you when you feel you have no voice.
And that’s how protest rock really got its start. We all know the songs that were written in response to the Vietnam War. The Dylan, the Seeger, the CCR. I had a math teacher in junior high who would play protest rock — loudly — while we took our exams. I can’t say I approved of this distraction during tests, but that music stuck with me. Protest rock bloomed again during the Bush wars, but it wasn’t necessarily classified as protest rock. It was punk rock, it was alternative rock, it was the dissatisfaction of the country coming out in song. There’s been a steady stream of songs about fighting for human and civil rights, about finding love for your fellow man. And now there’s so much that it’s hard to pick just a few protest songs to really express the fears and concerns of half the nation. But I’m pulling out some of my favorites for this Friday Five (which is really more like a Friday Ten+). Some songs are political, some are about finding hope and love in times of turmoil. But they all help express the emotions that have been coursing through me since Tuesday night.
1. P!nk – “Dear Mr. President”
Written in response to the Bush years, this song gives voice to questions so many people had. It always makes me cry, but it felt incredibly profound to me after Tuesday, because these questions will be relevant once more.
2. Sleater-Kinney – “Combat Rock”
Another song written during the Bush years, it addresses blind patriotism, and asks why questioning the way things are run is seen as un-American.
3. Ani DiFranco – “Tis of Thee”
A good deal of Ani’s songs are political, but this one really hits home right now.
4. Bikini Kill – “Rebel Girl”
The battle cry of all feminist women out there. Kathleen Hanna sang this last night with The Julie Ruin in NYC. The crowd went crazy, and so needed it.
5. The Gossip – “Standing in the Way of Control”
Anger over the country’s policies on same-sex marriage, written long before the Supreme Court decision. But now there’s a renewed fear that these rights will be taken away again.
6. Buffy Sainte-Marie – “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”
Given all that’s going on with the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the treaties that are being and will continue to be broken, this song is so relevant right now. I can only imagine that it will get worse under the new regime.
7. Sarah Harmer (via The Kennedy Suite) – “White Man in Decline”
Written for the Cowboy Junkies’ Kennedy assassination anniversary project, the song seems so relevant again with the uprising of the KKK and their endorsement and celebration of Trump.
8. Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins – “Rise Up With Fists”
When people tell you that the world should stay how it is (or go back to the way it was in the 40s and 50s), rise up with fists.
9. Run The Jewels – “2100”
RTJ released this track early for all those who are scared or hurt or wanting more right now.
10. Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”
If this isn’t the most representative song about overcoming societal obstacles right now (especially for the African-American community), then I don’t know what is.
Bonus 1: Hedwig & the Angry Inch – “Midnight Radio”