We've done this topic before, right? It's been a while though, right?
So let's see if this kicks something off: what are the best songs on the best albums? And if you drop a list today, feel free to add some commentary on whether there are other songs on the randomly-selected albums that you like better. Let's have some fun with it.
There was an article this week that Best Buy will stop selling CDs sometime this summer. I'm sure Spooky has good insider info on this but its no surprise, the CD section in BB has been shrinking for years. Quite the switch from maybe 10 years ago when there were aisles of CDs. It was the place to go to get a wide variety of music.
The article also stated that Target is still selling CDs but increasingly asking the label companies to provide the discs on consignment so that they aren't holding unsold music.
Do you still buy CDs? If so from where? If not, do you just stream or download music from iTunes, etc. Or have you have gone all vinyl? I'm a mix of buying CDs, streaming, and downloading. If I stream something enough, I typically go and a acquire it. I also still get music from the library as well.
Late 2017, the latest Bob Dylan bootleg series was released. This covered the “Christian” Dylan years of 1979-81. Is as usual with the Bootleg series, there is a large (in this case 13 CDs) release and a 2-CD “Best of.” I was always interested in this phase of Dylan but woefully uninformed, except for a couple of songs, specifically Gotta Serve Somebody. So I picked up the two CD set and was immediately blown away.
Most of the tracks are live renditions from this period, a time when Dylan’s band was excellent. Also the crowd’s were a little on edge as they wanted to hear the hits and let’s face it, Dylan always responds when the crowd’s on edge. Although not included on the 2-CD set, Dylan was actually testifying to the crowd during these shows. (some of these sermons are included on the 13 CD set or can be found on You Tube.) One particular incendiary song is Blessed is the Name, which I am pretty sure is a Psalm I’ve sung at Catholic Mass.
Anyway, if at all interested in this era of Dylan, I would strongly recommend picking up the 2 CD set. It’s a fascinating look at a fascinating phase of a fascinating artist.
Look, if you've got kids, (and even if you don't) you should be listening to the Okee Dokee Brothers.
It took me years to get on the bandwagon, but now I'm just so solidly there. These two guys from Colorado who grew up together, and have been friends since they were like 5, just have something really special. They're Minnesota-based now, I assume because one of them went to SJU for college. So they've got that awesomeness going for them too.
They're way better than most children's music because they've got some real depth. Their music covers "trips" that they take (canoeing down the Mississippi, hiking the Appalachian trail, etc.), and the songs, history, culture, and thoughts they have along the way.
Anyway, go listen to them, would ya?
Now, you tell me: what should I really be listening to? Like, really, really be listening to? Also, drop lists if you've got 'em.
"Best of?" Given the limited scope of what I've actually listened to, I'll just call it my favorites.
Album of the Year: Alice ColtraneWorld Sprituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (link)
Not a "new" album, but as the first wide release of this music, but new nonetheless. These songs were selected from four albums of Hare Krishna worship music Alice released between 1982 and 1995. Originally available only on cassettes directly from her ashram, the music has been re-mixed and re-mastered (not "remixed" though, just cleaned up). At many times this year, I've wanted to listen to nothing else. I have a hard time describing it... It's so many things together yet at the same time it sounds so detached from time and context. Hindu chants as gospel singing. Massive synths that feel like they should be from a specific date, but are more sui generis.
Honorable mentions in no specific order: GasNarkopop (link)
17 years since Pop and Wolfgang Voigt picks up the Gas moniker and dusts it off. It must be like riding a bicycle, because this is of the same stuff.
Sylvan EssoWhat Now
What if the Postal Service was more than a one-off, and the singer was a female with a lot of Americana influence, and the electronic musician was there in person rather than via tapes in the mail? It would be a lot like this.
Sarah DavachiAll My Circles Run (link)
Great near-classical ambient. Even though Gas is back doesn't mean those who took up that torch can't make their own great albums. Bonus marks for last year's Vergers, which I only first heard in the last weeks of 2016.
Aaron DillowaySwitches (link) The Gag File was touted and press-released, but I think this is a lot better, though I've learned nothing else about it. Noise-tape loops as Dilloway does them. Dread and menace.
Julien BakerTurn Out the Lights
Probably the only one that will show up on others' lists. A worthy follow-up to Sprained Ankle.
A new year is suppose to bring a clean slate, a time to start over. Politically, however, it seems rather hopeless. When things are dire what songs do you go to bring some hope? As usual Robert Pollard pretty much nails it with Hold on Hope, but I am sure there others. Also drop your lists.
We did the Holiday mix. It is awesome. A few new songs I didn't know and other ones that weren't in my regular rotation. Anyway, the awesomeness and previousness of that list doesn't mean this Friday we go silent on discussing holiday music. So. That's the thing.
I have a soft spot in my heart for songs that include a well placed cowbell. Typically at the end of a song when the cowbell comes out of nowhere and signals that the end of the song is upon us.
One great example is the cowbell at the end of the Rolling Stones’ Dead Flowers. The cowbell comes in right near the end of the song at the 3:48 mark. Two stark and clear peals, it’s off the beat and partly masks Mick’s singing but provides such a coda. The cowbell effectively ends the song and is the ultimate kiss off on what is an excellent kiss off song. It’s a great little touch from Charlie Watts.
Another great example is the cowbell at the end of The Replacements’ Don’t Ask Why. Different from Dead Flowers in that its part of the cacophony at the end of the song. It first comes at 1:41 of the song and and its three strikes mirror Paul singing “Don’t Ask Why.” Actually the first time there is only 2 peals and I always wondered if that was an error. Technically I don’t think this is a cowbell as there is an upward tone in the 3rd peal, although it could be where the bell is struck. Much like Dead Flowers, the bells put emphasis on what is another fantastic kiss off song. It drives me crazy. I was at the Replacements Tribute last weekend at the Turf Club and I missed it when the band didn’t have those bells.
Honorable mention goes to what I think is an electronic chime at the end of The Tourist from Radiohead. It’s literally the last thing you hear at the end of the song and the last thing you hear at the end of the entire album. I could write a whole post about the meaning of that chime.
Are there other small elements of a song that you always look for? Any good examples? Also drop your lists.
Sometimes there are songs that are played in TV episodes or movies that just... hit right. I'm thinking primarily of songs that already exist out in the world, and then get brought into the show/film. When they work right they just deepen the whole experience. The one that pops immediately to my mind is Moby's "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die" used in Stranger Things. I know there have been others throughout my life. I'm curious what has worked brilliantly in others' minds? Any times you've said "oh, they should have used this song instead!" or anything like that?