Note: One of the things I've really been enjoying this month is not on Spotify (Drag City!! C'mon!!). Check out the band Death if you can. They were a group of three African-American brothers from Detroit who were playing really great proto-punk in the early seventies. Their album was never released back in the day, but was rediscovered by their sons and released in 2009. I've been listening to the whole thing on youtube (below). There's a new documentary about them, too.
Now, to the list:
Melt Banana – Shield for your eyes, a Beast in the well on your hand While visiting my folks in Milwaukee I came upon on of those Little Free Libraries. They had a great coffee-table book dedicated to Gorillaz, and while looking through it one day the Noodle character suddenly reminded me of Melt Banana. I got turned on to this group by my old roommate Mike, and always loved the mania of this track. I've watched footage of them performing this, and still have absolutely no clue how he gets his guitar to do that. Take that, Tom Morello.
Huey Lewis & The News – The Power Of Love Huey Lewis was on WTF recently, and surprisingly proved to have a pretty interesting story and take on things. I have to admit, the transition from Melt Banana to this tickles me every time I hear it. It's incredible to me that both songs fall under the category of "rock" music.
Beastie Boys – It Takes Time To Build Spare. Straight up. Old school. I love the Beastie Boys and feel mournful for the loss of MCA listening to this. I've heard this song tons of times, but it wasn't until I was putting this month's list together that I realized that they stick to the same rhyme through the whole song. !!
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – City Got to see Thao at the Empty Bottle a few years back, and then with the great collaboration with Mirah last summer. She's got such a distinctive sound and tons of attitude.
Deerhunter – Leather Jacket II It's crazy to me how Deerhunter can toe the line between catchiness and noise. Love this track from their new album.
Vampire Weekend – Step Vampire Weekend – Diane Young I've never been a big fan of Vampire Weekend, although it always seemed to me like I should. I love a lot contemporary bands who incorporate and update African sounds for American indie rock. But they just always seemed a little too on-the-nose for me. There wasn't enough to complicate what they were doing in any interesting way. Maybe you don't agree that their early sound hewed way to closely to Graceland-era Paul Simon (although, I think you'd be insane), but in general they didn't seem to be adding any of their own flavor to the music - whatever they played you could hear another band do it better. Also, their whole affect was too unified, like they were under the influence of some rigid marketing svengali. Everything, from their physical presentation to their subject matter, seemed derived from a concept - East Coast Preps Play Peppy African Pop. Ew.
But I love this new record. I feel like they've finally come into their own, like they finally sound like Vampire Weekend. There's a great swirl of influences. It's weird. It's fun. The subject matter has nothing to do with punctuation. Something I was reading pointed out that Step references both the Pachelbel's Canon and Souls of Mischief. Meanwhile, Diane Young sounds like the secret love child of Daft Punk and Elvis Presley. How can you not love that?
Black Moth Super Rainbow – Neon Syrup for the Cemetery Sisters I know very little about BMSR, except that the mastermind is called Tobacco, and that every time I hear them I love it.
Jimmy Smith – J.O.S. This month I moved out of the apartment where I've lived for nearly six years, much longer than I've ever lived anywhere. It was a long process, during which I became a little bit obsessed, but it afforded me a lot of time to hang with my record player, which was one of the last things I took out of the old place. This Jimmy Smith record was on repeated rotation for a lot of the time, and is great music for putting shit in boxes. Plus, you know, Lee Morgan.
K-OS – Alone in My Car I was covering for Helean at CHIRP recently and came across this album by this Canadian rapper/singer. I love how the distinction between those two vocal disciplines continues to break down. Just hearing this song, you probably would never think "Oh, this is rap." Which it isn't, despite the fact that K-OS is known as a rapper.
Flight Of The Conchords – Business Time Just. You know. Hilarious.
Rick James – Superfreak In my quixotic quest to fill the Grand Canyon-esque gaps in Gabe's pop-culture knowledge I introduced her to Chappelle's Show, which to me is kind of the pinnacle of funny. Apparently, that is not a universal opinion. The famous Rick James skit, where Charlie Murphy recounts his adventures with Rick James and Chappelle plays him, elicited almost no laughter from the other side of the couch. ("It's a celebration, bitches!" "Unity!" Come on!) When my indignation at her lack of amusement became apparent, she tried to excuse it by saying that maybe if she knew who Rick James was... Well, (with all due respect) this is Rick James, bitch!!!!
Ramones – Blitzkreig Bop This month, I had the honor of "DJing" a dance party for a nine year-old's birthday. Although it was supposed to be a punk rock themed birthday party, I suspected (correctly) that the inevitable requests would take us very far from punk rock (ex. - Taylor Swift, Train, and the Hamster Dance). Apparently, nine year-old girls in 2013 just aren't that versed in the Sex Pistols, etc. I led off my set with this nugget, knowing it's fun enough to get them bouncing, and punk enough to satisfy my inner grumpy old man.
Paul Simon – Mother And Child Reunion The first Paul Simon solo album has always been one of the treasures of my record collection, and was the obvious choice for inaugural vinyl in my new place. So great.