It’s Monday, time to get your blood pumping for the week with some new listens - or old. The ongoing listening series otherwise known as The Well-Played List features the most listened-to, jammed-out songs, albums and artists of the week as submitted by the CL Music Team along with a rotating crew of tastemakers — local music promoters, record store and venue owners, music fans and scenesters, DJs, musicians, and a radio personality or two; check the past several week’s worth here. Audio and video included, along with any applicable show information. Past editions here. And on that note, what are you jamming this week? Tell us in the comments…
Blackalicious, Blazing Arrow (2002) Love this second full-length from the Cali hip hop duo featuring rapper Gift of Gab and DJ/producer Chief Xcel. Intellectually clever lyrics flow over tight grooving production that samples anything from Harry Nilsson's "Arrow" in the title track, to The Crusaders and Dolly Parton in soulful closer "Release." The guest list is strong and includes instrumentalists (Karl Denson on flute and sax), vocalists and rappers (Ben Harper, Zach de la Rocha, Lyrics Born), and a few sit-in producers (Cut Chemist, Questlove, DJ Shadow). It's the sort of disc you could put on repeat and just keep head-bobbing out to all day long.
Thom Yorke, Tomorrow's Modern Boxes (2014) I got super excited about this when it dropped but have barely lukewarm feelings about it. It's like, modern electro Radiohead experimentation without the warmth or heart and with too much in the way of extended ambient interludes. At least Yorke's falsetto is its usual delicate bird wheeling over top of it all, even if it doesn't seem to be saying anything meaningful. Late night music, for sure, but maybe what you listen to if you are actually on your way to dreamland.
SBTRKT, Wonder Where We Land (2014) I need a new album to work out to and this latest from electro-dance producer SBTRKT appears to be a likely candidate. I've been addicted to first single "New Dorp. NEW YORK" — which features Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend — for a few weeks now, and it has already proven capable of inspiring after-hours dance parties. Several other cuts off the album are equally strong. Read Cody's review of Wonder Where We Land here, and check out the video for the aforementioned track below along with the rest of this week's entries...
JOE D'ACUNTO | THX Management Presents
Tor & Sufjan Stevens, Illinoize Mixtape (2014)
Zammuto, Anchor (2014)
Saintseneca, Dark Arc (2014)
Captain Planet, Esperanto Slang (2014)
Generationals, Alix (2014, Polyvinyl)
KRISTIN STIGAARD | Daddy Kool, No Clubs Entertainment
I've been jamming to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs latest record, Mosquito (I love the song "Despair") as well as Panic! at the Disco's Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! (The song "Girls/Girls/Boys" gets stuck in my head a lot). Both records came out in 2013, but I caught on to them a little late.
Sarah White, Sweetheart (2008) Though White's debut album, All My Skies Are Blue, is so lo-fi and scattered it'd make a young John Darnielle either grimace or roil in ecstasy depending on his mood that day, her later recordings are well-considered and sound rich and warm, not like they were recorded in a tin-can in the rain. (Don't get me wrong, I love that first album!) Sweetheart, which I've been listening to on repeat, may be White's break-through, if a relatively obscure singer-songwriter from Virginia can have a break-through. She won a songwriting award for the title track, a somber ode of Appalachian Americana that is perfect listening for all the rain we've been getting lately.
Siouxsie and the Banshees, Juju (1981) In anticipation of the final batch of remastered, reissued Siouxsie and the Banshees CDs that are finally getting a proper release in the UK at the end of the month, I’m revisiting my favorite Siouxsie album and still reveling in its beauty and elegance. She and the Banshees (featuring genius drummer, percussionist and composer Budgie) had hit their stride after releasing their classic Kaleidoscope album in 1980. Juju, the follow-up, and its successor, 1982’s A Kiss in the Dreamhouse are, in my opinion, the best albums the classic lineup ever recorded. Between Siouxsie’s unique howls and croons, Budgie’s avalanche of sound toeing the line with the spooky, gorgeous mood pieces the band penned, this period in the band’s tenure proved to be it’s most prolific, fruitful and exciting. I never get tired of the freaky, frantic acoustic guitar strumming in “Spellbound,” arguably the greatest Banshees single of all (see below). While Ms. Sioux has been imitated often and has influenced a ton of female singers and performers, there’s nothing like the real Siouxsie..especially on Juju where she really branched out and showed all her wonderful true colors.
ADAM KUHN | Music fan and scenester with discerning taste | Front End Designer, Big Sea Design & Development
Iceage, Plowing Into the Field of Love (2014) More No-Wave post punk we've come to expect from this Danish band, but moving into grander arrangements. These guys have matured without sacrificing raw intensity, now treading wonderfully close to the theatrical Birthday Party-era sneer of Nick Cave through the dour depressive filter of Joy Division. The standout track is an early detour into Gun Club-style cowpunk, "The Lord's Favorite," the closest thing to a danceable song these guys have ever written.
Ryan Adams, 1984 EP (2014) This caught me way off guard, I've always figured Adams as a talented guy at the top of the alt-country balladeer game, but frankly his prior output (including Whiskeytown and his new self-titled LP) has never really excited me. According to Adams, the intent of this 10-song 13-minute EP was to capture the intensity of SST/Dischord's prime 1980's output. This is a huge red flag; when a mainstream-ish pop musician decides they're going to make a "punk" record it rarely ends well, and I'm never happy to see a subculture that meant so much to me co-opted by a slick corporate musician. I got over this when I heard "1984." While he fails to invoke the anger and intensity of SST or Dischord he succeeds in managing to capture the poppier energy of the Replacements and Husker Du — a more apt title would perhaps be "Minneapolis 1988."
Tijuana Panthers, Wayne Interest (2014) Spare/minimal garage rock from Long Beach. Seamlessly drifting through surf, post punk and countrified Southern rock, these guys — like any garage band worth a shit — keep it decidedly lo-fi and drowned in reverb. Buried under the scuzz, however, are some truly great pop hooks that make me wanna get drunk and dance along.