"A very intelligent friend of mine proposes that the order in which you prioritize the three basic components of music (melody, harmony, rhythm) can help others understand your preferences. For me, melody reigns. To this confession, I add my need for recognizable form and a preference for expression over beauty."
Featuring: Cristina Deutekom, Cecilia Bartoli, Bruno LaPlante (and more) performing music by Mozart, Schubert, Hahn, and more.
"The concept of 'enchantment' is something that I think about as a maker. Walter Benjamin makes the case that in 'the age of mechanical reproduction,' (he’s thinking about photography and film, and their relation to the individual and sacred art object - a painting or a sculpture, etc…) the 'aura' of a work of art can no longer remain, and that the value of works of art no longer reside in their uniqueness or specialness."
Featuring: Four Tet, Cola Splash, Arthur Verocai, FaltyDL, and more.
"In the last few years, I have found my peace with the holidays. Mostly that has been through appropriating the time into a retreat: for writing and editing, (finally) reading the books that have piled up faster than I can get to them, and immersing myself in the records that followed me home like strays all year. It’s a gloriously indulgent couple of weeks. 'The Retreat' unpacks some of my 2017 favorites, nods to the Pacific, the wildfires, and even the recent Atlanta mayoral election."
Featuring: Juana Molina, Kamasi Washington, Cypress Hill, and more.
The playlist includes a number of tracks featured in my new book Flip the Script: European Hip Hop and the Politics of Postcoloniality (https://europeanhiphop.org/), but the main aim is to give you an intro to the breadth of hip hop “over there” via some bumpin’ beats, ill flows, and otherwise sonically seductive music. That is, I’m not in professor mode here, I’m in hip hop head mode.
Featuring: Roots Manuva, Oxmo Puccino, Lady Leshurr, Amewu, and more.
"This is two metal guys (from Enslaved and Wardruna, respectively) collaborating on a song cycle telling the history of Norway in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution. It’s easily one of the oddest yet most satisfying albums I’ve picked up this year."
Featuring: Wovenhand, Gojira, Lush, and more.
"Winter sex is the most distinct. Something about staying home. Something about slowing down. Radiators. Light through ice. Snow reflection. Drafts. Stone dry air. Static. Something at once concentrated and calm, a core. The thirteen songs pulled here will give you just over an hour to reconnect with that lover of yours. You’ve got time. You’ve got repeat. What are you waiting for?"
Featuring: Rodrigo Campos, Letta Mbulu, Smokey Robinson, and more
"The only love I knew was my longing for dudes in hair metal bands. Duff McKagan, Nikki Sixx, Sebastian Bach— they were my dreamboats in leather pants, hair flowing like the dolls I hadn't yet quit, their heroin needles and STDs invisible to my eyes."
Featuring: Guns N' Roses, Warrant, Def Leppard, you get the idea
"My old rule about mix tapes was that each one should drop you right into the present tense. Even if the first song isn’t brand-new, the mood it evokes should speak to the current moment in some important way."
Featuring: Dan Deacon, Deerhunter, Explosions In The Sky, and more.
"I love electronic music and remixes that completely reconsider the original. I also love to dance, so most of my playlists, including this one, start with ambient music and end with a dance party."
Featuring: Paul Oakenfold, Gregory Isaacs, Led Zeppelin, and more.
And check out an in-depth interview with Ruth about her job writing about organizational behavior and management through the lens of rock bands, and a lot more.
"Larry Penn is one of the greatest songwriters and singers anywhere. I am proud to know him. Every one of his songs is built with the skill of a fine craftsman, but he is never precious. He is also someone who is always verbally and mentally on his game – you need to be on your toes to hang out with him: if you don’t say what you mean, or back up what you say, he’ll call you on it."
Featuring: Larry Penn, Rebirth Brass Band, Fugazi, and more.
"It wasn't until I sat down to work out this mix that I realized how much I miss sitting with a stack of vinyl, CDs, and cassettes trying to get the perfect mix tape down. This mix is playlist of songs that I just keep revisiting and most are part of my musical foundation. As a percussionist, I've spent a lot of inspiring moments with the music of Brazil, Peru, Cuba, and New Orleans so I focused this mix on that base."
Featuring: Celia Cruz, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Los Van Van, and more.
"This list is ultimately for my daughters, but also for all the others who want to hear women. I gave myself only two stipulations: 1) The lead vocalist must be a woman and 2) The song must not compromise the integrity of that vocalist or any woman at all."
Featuring: Xenia Rubinos, Whitney Houston, The Breeders, and more.
"It's been forever since I just made a list that is simply 'some favorites from recently released albums' - nothing too themed or directed or boxed in - just a handful of tunes from artists who've been sounding really good to me. Here we go..."
Featuring: Diggs Duke, Viet Cong, Alsarah and the Nubatones, Isaiah Rashad, and way more.
"I also love many other types of music, but I see almost all of it, with the exception of the punk I was obsessed with in my early to mid teens, through the lens of hip-hop. These are songs that I discovered because they are sampled - most are obvious, some not - in great rap songs."
Featuring: Funkadelic, Willie Hutch, Mos Def, DA Smart, and more.
"These tracks are from standout electronic albums from the past couple years, it doesn’t really reflect what I’m listening to at the moment - that changes on a weekly basis, depending on the current obsession. For the most part, I’m choosing the 'goth kid' in the albums - which are not necessarily the best representation of the albums they’re associated with."
Featuring: Drumcell, Autechre, Nine Inch Nails, and more.
Fully ambivalent to whatever is de rigueur, Steve tends to fall deeply for an artist or group of artists and listen to them a lot.
Featuring: White Denim, Zemfira, Metallica, and more.
"While I am a music & vinyl junkie, it’s been a loooong while since I’ve put together a proper mixtape. I always preferred the Maxell XLII 90 as my tape of choice. Please be sure to flip it over after 45 minutes, and don’t forget to be kind & rewind the tape before passing it on to somebody else, or leaving it in your glove box."
Featuring: Roy Ayers, Funkadelic, Savages, and more.
"I don’t even remember where we were—at some bar or restaurant—when this song came on. I immediately fell in love with the percussion and asked no one in particular who plays this song. Without missing a beat, James said, this song is called “Vitamin C” by Can. I can listen to this song on repeat, ad infinitum. "
Featuring: Dilla, The Monkees, Depeche Mode, and more.
"One, this was hard. I just really love music, so whittling down this list was harder than changing a tire without a jack or tire iron. I’m one of those weird people who forms emotional connections to music and can’t live without it."
Featuring: Daft Punk, The Dramatics, Fleetwood Mac, and more.
"I realize that I’ve spent a good portion of my time in California bitching a whole bunch, which may be why I’m losing the hair on my head and gaining it in my ears/nose and on my back. "
Featuring: CeCe Peniston, Matthew Dear, Jackson Browne, and more.
"I’ve been making music since the 1950’s, when I was a boy soprano in Miss Acevedo’s choir in the East Lansing, Michigan public schools. I’ve been making music for pay since the 1960’s, when I played in a jug band as a teenager in Madison, Wisconsin. My choices are retro, but that’s just who I am."
Featuring: Junior Wells, Fairport Convention, Vusi Mahlasela, and more.
"It’s true. I have never made a mix tape. I’m a late bloomer. So here’s my first mix tape. Hopefully I’ll get better with time."
Featuring: The Stranglers, Etta Jones, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, and more.
"Domestication is kicking my ass. I don’t think I have much coherent time left in me. With what remaining threads of wit I have I will dedicate one playlist a year to my slow demise."
Featuring: Vangelis, Prince, Laura Mvula, and more.