April 2014: Golden Age for Women Musicians?

Regardless of your conclusion about what gates have or haven't been knocked down, or what technological/political changes in the music industry have taken place to create opportunities for women in music - women around the world are clearly making some of the most exciting, diverse, confident contemporary music.

Featuring: The Coathangers, Tune-yards, Sisyphus, Quilt, and more.

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March 2014: Damon Albarn & Post-postmodernism

Even though it was kind of like eating candy for me, I felt slightly guilty about the retro focus of last month's playlist, with its severe dearth of new music. This month I renewed my commitment to finding new music, and also devoted energy to researching some new sources, a few of which I'll mention below. Looking at this mix now, I wonder if I've swung too far in the other direction - but that anxiety is assuaged by what I think is a pretty tight, well-paced mix.

Featuring: Xenia Rubinos, Sharon Van Etten, Black Milk, John Lurie, and more. 

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February 2014: Dream of the'80's

A good cover honors the original and puts a new spin on it. A great cover can make you completely reevaluate an original (no matter how mediocre) by seizing the kernel of genius within and spinning it into something barely recognizable.

Featuring: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Moondog, Neneh Cherry, Tinariwen, and more. 

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January 2014: The Problem with "World Music"

When trying to fulfill a New Year's resolution, it helps mightily if you've chosen to nudge yourself in the direction of something pleasurable, rather than trying to force yourself on an odious task. With one of my two musical resolutions in mind, I've been spending some time checking out Bandcamp as a resource for new music, and it's been pretty rewarding, turning me on to this incredible collection and more.

Featuring: Asaf Avidan, El Rego, Martin Carthy, Sharon Jones, and more. 

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2013 - My Favorites, and Yours

As I alluded to in my December mix, I'm engaged in a prolonged wrestling match with Best of 2013 lists and all of the great music I missed. Here's my swing at making my own list, in which I've simply gone through all twelve of my monthly lists and plucked out the stuff that I remember particularly enjoying.

I've been kind of surprised that Jim James' Regions of Light and Sound of God hasn't shown up on any of the lists I've seen. It's easily one of my favorites of the year, if not my number one. Most of the music on this is from 2013, but I've included Chavela Vargas because she was a new discovery for me, and one that made a deep impression. Also, she fits well with the plethora of women making great music in 2013. It's my experience that this is kind of a golden age for great music made by women, in almost every genre. With that in mind I've rounded out my best-of list with one track each from each of this year's Guest Lists, five of which are from ladies in 2013.

I've been thinking about some "musical resolutions" for 2014, and I've come up with a few, including: exploring  Soundcloud and Bandcamp as ways to discover new music that is not on Spotify, and listening to more new rap music. I'll let you know as more come to me, and feel free to share yours, too.

Happy New Year to everyone! And here's to great listening in 2014.

Chavela Vargas – Paloma negra

Jim James – A New Life

Gramma's Boyfriend – Glitter

Bassekou Kouyate + Ngoni ba – Sinaly

Vampire Weekend – Step

Courtney Barnett – History Eraser

Deathfix – Dali's House

Bombino – Amidinine

Chris Thile – Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001: IV. Presto

Lucius – Nothing Ordinary

Arctic Monkeys – Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?

Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band – BAD DANCER

David Byrne & St. Vincent – Who - from Gabe Lyon

Laura Mvula – She - from Jon Martin

April Verch – Edward in the Treetop, Yellow Jacket, Quit That Tickling Me - from Dave Fox

Regina Spektor – You've Got Time - from Helean Lee

Savages – She Will - from Colby Starck

Flans – No Controles - from Ingrid Esparza

Tom Tom Club – Genius Of Love - from Karen Mikki Brown


December 2013: Memphis

Gabe and I completed our Tennessee Tour 2013 this month with a few days in Memphis, a city whose musical culture, both past and present, is a gift that keeps on giving.

Featuring: Amy Lavere, Quadron, Wiley, Ry Cooder, and more. 

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November 2013: Yoko for President (Ry for V.P.)

For me, this month essentially began and ended with Ry Cooder. I've fallen in love with albums of his before, especially the stellar I, Flathead, but the enormity of his genius, the sheer amount of time he's been making great music, escaped me until I started sifting through his catalogue (which goes back to 1970) this month.

Featuring: Cate le Bon, Arcade Fire, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and more. 

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October 2013: Lindblom High Music Appreciation

Last week I had the privilege of visiting my friend Johnny Suh's music appreciation class at Linblom High School and playing some music for them. The opportunity to blather on about music for 45 minutes to a group of people who have to listen and can't leave the room is a dream come true for me. 

Featuring: Tanya Morgan, U2, Linda Thompson, Pygmies of the Ituri Rainforest, and more. 

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September 2013: Florida Aftermath

A couple weeks ago I had the distinct pleasure of DJing a birthday party at an outdoor pool in Jupiter, FL for my friend Griffin, who turned four.

Featuring: Johnny Otis, Nirvana, STRFKR, NRBQ, and more. 

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August 2013: Library, meet Spotify.

I used to rely on the library heavily for new music, checking out CDs regularly from the public library and hitting the music section of my college library hard for four solid years. Without thinking about it too much, that habit tapered off into nothing long ago. A few weeks ago, though, I found myself killing some time in the music section of the Harold Washington Library downtown, and wandered into the world music CD section.

Featuring: Lucius, Cam'ron, Moderat, Eleanor Friedberger, and more. 

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July 2013: Pitchfork Festival

The Pitchfork festival was this month, and was my second year of going - but only for one day this time. It was especially fun because I got to take Gabe to her first outdoor music festival. There are more details about what we saw below, but I walked away with a general impression - younger artists need to step it up.

Featuring: Kobo Town, Mikal Cronin, Bjork, Tyler Ramsey, and more. 

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June 2013: Short and Sweet

This, well... This is what happens when you're messing around on Spotify searching for "Bosnian." It's stuff like this that makes me really love Spotify.

Featuring: Percy Mayfield, Alpine, Queens of the Stone Age, and more. 

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May 2013: Hello, Hyde Park

I've never been a big fan of Vampire Weekend, although it always seemed to me like I should. But I love this new record.

Featuring: Death, Huey Lewis and the News, K-Os, Rick James, and more. 

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April 2013: Touareg Music Makes a Leap

I've been interested in the incredibly diverse and all-around badass music coming from Mali for probably about 15 years. Probably about 60 seconds into hearing Bombino's new album Nomad I thought to myself, "This is the next evolutionary step of Touareg music." 

Featuring: Bombino, Blood Orange, Bassekou Kouyate, Bronski Beat, and more. 

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March 2013: Nashville

Thank god for the Carter Family. There's something so elemental, so foundational about their sound. Even though I grew up with their songs, and experience the same kind of spiritual relief when hear them as when I hear my mom sing, there's still so much of their music I've never heard. 


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February 2013: Goodbye to the Working Week

Regions of Light and Sound is this month's obsession for me. Like most music obsessions of mine, it is like a teacher whose lessons seem bottomless. The more I listen to it, the more I learn. 

Featuring: Jim James, John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John, Gramma's Boyfriend, and more

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January 2013: The Tyranny of Time

Is really seems like more and more contemporary musicians are shrugging off the tyranny of linear time, figuring out how to embody older musical ideas while maintaining a completely up-to-date feel. 

Featuring: Joe Barry, The Amazing, Chavela Vargas, Tame Impala, and more. 

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December 2012: Feeling Sentimental

Lots of sentimentality in this month's mix, which I guess is fitting for the holidays. And romance, which is also fitting for a month which hosted a very romantic trip to New York City, and New Years Eve - which is my personal favorite holiday.

Featuring: Ella Fitzgerald, Nico, Frank Ocean, Radiation City, and more. 

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November 2012: Transcendental Oddness & Insufferability

Every once in a while I get obsessed with just one song, and listen to it over and over again - which I'm sure, if you are someone who spends a lot of time in my company (like, say, a really patient girlfriend), can become insufferable. 

Featuring: John Fahey, Macklemore, Cody Chesnutt, Solange, and more. 

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