CD Monday

Bright Eyes

Just spent some time on the Wikipedia page for the term “equivocate.” Apparently, it has a very specific meaning related to logic and polysemic words, but I was planning on using it to say that I tend not to be very decisive. The fact that I couldn’t commit to using a word to describe my tendency to waver before looking it up takes this idea to a whole other level of absurdity. Or maybe it’s irony. I can’t decide.

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that my enjoyment of Bright Eyes is rooted in Conor Oberst’s voice — more specifically the conviction he communicates. Like simply writing and singing his lyrics isn’t enough. Like he’s spitting them out so they’ll hit as hard as possible. Consonants are more percussive, and long notes end up wavering under the weight of all the emotion he’s putting into them. Pretty sure that’s ironic too, the wavering. It’s strength and weakness all tangled up together.

While I hopped on the Bright Eyes train around the time I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn came out, Cassadaga was the first full album cycle I was on board for, and it’ll always be a favorite. Gonna get real self-righteous in the You Hear Thatmobile this week.

Bright Eyes — “Four Winds” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Covered: Super Bowl 50

I’d say a long day of Super Bowl prep — braising a pork butt, assembling elaborately unhealthy pigs-in-blankets, etc. — calls for some situationally appropriate album art.

Michael Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Stephen Stills — Super Session

Super Session

Stephen Stills’ second Covered appearance in two opportunities. Not sure what’s happening here, but Super Session seems entirely appropriate at this juncture.

Michael Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Stephen Stills — “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” (Bob Dylan cover) [Spotify/iTunes]

The Beatles — Live at the Hollywood Bowl

The Beatles

Different bowl, similar setup —  a bunch of people crowded into a California stadium, shrieking.

The Beatles — Live At The Hollywood Bowl, August 23, 1964 [Discogs]

The Grateful Dead — Live at Hampton Coliseum

The Grateful Dead

The game is being played Levi’s Stadium, home of the 49ers, so a little Dead is called for, I think. Going with Live at Hampton Coliseum, which came out on Record Store Day 2014. While I never got to see the Dead at Hampton (or anywhere else), I did see Phish there, and the building’s rep as a jam-band Mecca rings true for me. That was a fun show. Except for the part where a friend passed out from dehydration. And the part where another friend got turned away because the ticket he bought turned out to be fake. Otherwise — fun show!

The Grateful Dead — “Eyes Of The World” [Discogs]

 

Beyoncé — Beyoncé

Beyonce

This goes out to the halftime performer who deserves right of first refusal on all halftime performances everywhere. I wish I were as perfectly suited for any task in the entire world as she is for halftime shows. It’s like watching Bob Ross paint or Mrs. YHT spoon Nutella out of the jar — it’s what they were put on this Earth to do, and they do it more gracefully and perfectly than anyone else. Fingers crossed she does “Formation” tonight.

Beyoncé — “Formation” [YouTube]

Marvin Gaye — Super Hits

Marvin Gaye

This one’s for Cam. I heard through the grapevine he’s gonna win — 28-18.

Enjoy the game!

Marvin Gaye — “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Off Your Radar

Off Your Radar

Psyched to tell y’all about a new writing project I’m contributing to called Off Your Radar. It’s an email newsletter about albums that might not have gotten the recognition they deserved, and it’s got a neat format: A bunch of writers giving their thoughts on a single album each week, so you really get to dig into it. The first edition just came out yesterday, and it focused on The Noyelle Beat by Standard Fare.

Here’s what I had to say:

Keeping a diary is an exercise in keeping track of the trees, not necessarily the forest. You chronicle the ups and downs, with as little varnish as possible, and usually it’s a solitary affair. But when I listen to Standard Fare’s The Noyelle Beat album, I hear a shared diary. Moments and emotions are crystallized–longing (“I know it’s hard being apart”), fights (“I know I made a fool of you”), regrets (“I’m wishing I was him now”)–with lots of “you,” like a detailed, itemized accounting being done on two accounts at once. Two voices. Little studio polish. Honest vocals without the comfort of reverb. Clear and present drums. It reminds me of how this kind of record-keeping isn’t just useful for looking back or determining trends–it’s a healthy part of a thoughtful person’s daily routine. Reflection. Processing. But there are also the moments that zoom out, where you see the whole forest. Like on “Married,” where Emma Kupa sings “I always said that it was you I’d marry,” or on “Dancing,” where she sings “There’s always gonna come a time when we don’t know the answers / always gonna come a time when we should just go dancing.” I love that.

14 other writers gave their impressions, and Emma Kupa actually saw it and responded on Twitter, which is fun.

Click here to subscribe. Then click there again to subscribe someone you know. I think you (and they) will really enjoy it. Having an album to obsess over is a way better reason to look forward to the start of each week than Monday itself, am I right? Many thanks to Doug Nunnally for including me in the project — such a thoughtful, talented bunch he’s assembled, and it’s a thrill to be part of it.

Here’s the song off The Noyelle Beat that I grew to love most.

Standard Fare — “Married” [Spotify/iTunes]

 

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CD Monday

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Picked up this promotional single at BK Music a few weeks back, and I’m excited to dig in this week. OK, so maybe not ALL week — two songs over and over might make Davy a dull boy — but I’m enjoying “Don’t Know What It Means,” with its meaty four-on-the-floor beat and horn arrangements that remind me of the ones Allen Toussaint did for The Last Waltz.

Tedeschi Trucks Band — “Don’t Know What It Means” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Seen/Eaten/Heard

Adele

Saw this while waiting in line at Plan 9. Cracked me up. I’ve been looking for an excuse to post “Hello” without having to write a thousand-word hot take about it. I just… like it.

Side note for all you mashup fans: It pairs very nicely with Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City.”

Adele — “Hello” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Cian Nugent

Cian Nugent

The truth is most powerful when stated plainly. Directly. Boiled down. Sometimes you hear a phrase or song lyric that gets so close to the essence of an idea that it sounds like it’s stating the obvious. Someone who can’t identify with that specific feeling might say “Yeah. Duh. Everyone knows that.” But to the people who are feeling that same feeling, it can be like a door bursts open and sunlight and fresh air start rushing in for the first time in who knows how long.

“Don’t you ever get tired of being so in between where you’re headed and where you’ve been?” It’s a line in “Lost Your Way,” the first song on Cian Nugent’s new Night Fiction album.

In the most literal sense, we’re all stuck in the present. Wherever we are, time-wise, there we are. But if you’ve ever had a dream that’s just out of your reach, or fallen into a rut you can’t to climb out of, the present is like a prison. It’s what you see when you look into the future, and depending on how long you’ve been stuck, it might even be what you see when you look into the past.

I think it’s the “so” that got me — the idea that you’re not just between where you’re headed and where you’ve been, but that both are somehow really far away. That maybe they’re growing more remote as time goes on. How scary is that?

The fact that this hit me so hard tells me that I’m not totally where I need to be. Knowing what changes to make is a whole other matter, of course, but man — listening to “Lost Your Way” for the first time was one hell of a wake-up call.

The rest of Night Fiction is just as excellent, I should say. The mixing especially — his guitar is always nice and high in the mix, which really suits his style and these songs. Feels distinctive. Shouts to Bill at BK Music for helping me get my hands on this soon — can’t wait to play it at YHT HQ.

Cian Nugent — “Lost Your Way” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Avers

Avers

Every year, in the hours and days after I publish my Top 10 lists and say to myself “Well that’s done, thank god,” I start planning a mea culpa post that lists all the mistakes I made. This year, for example, I can’t remember what I was doing but “I hit the weekend just like a freight” ran through my head and the realization hit me just as hard: “Shit. I totally left off Nashville Obsolete.” Definitely should have been in my Top 25. Maybe even Top 10. It wasn’t released on vinyl, so I didn’t have a physical reminder around the house, but still… wish I hadn’t blanked on that one.

I never actually write or post these mea culpas — I figure it’s a “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party” situation — but there’s one regret from 2015 list-making I can’t abide silently, and that’s not listening to Avers’ Wasted Tracks EP sooner.

I’ve been playing it repeatedly since New Year’s, and I really, really like these songs. It’s an interesting collection, because square-peg-round-hole EPs usually come out after the full length album they were trimmed from, but I read that these songs were cut from the band’s upcoming 2016 album. That they weren’t representative of the direction the band is going in. It’s exciting — trying to anticipate what that direction might be, having fantastic songs like “Calling Out To You” and “Come To Me Now” as points of predictive contrast. And “Beautiful Day To Die” is easily one of my favorite songs they’ve done so far.

Here’s to looking forward and backward and the same time.

Avers — “Calling Out To You” [Spotify/iTunes]

Avers — “Come To Me Now” [Spotify/iTunes]

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