Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Romantic Songs Playlist for Valentine's Day 2016

It's that time again... I've noticed that people have been searching for a Romantic Songs Playlist by clicking on my prior posts from 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 so I better get to this year's line up. As always, it's a mix of old and new songs that deal with the many facets of being in love. I can't help but indulge in some tunes from the 80s, when I was young and in love and NYC served as our playground for late nights with a soundtrack heavy on the synths. Other picks are newer creations of all genres and many moods across the musical spectrum. Link to listen on Spotify here, enjoy!

1. "Space Age Love Song" - A Flock of Seagulls
2. "Temptation" - New Order
3. "Snowden" - Doves
4. "When U Love Somebody" - Fruit Bats
5. "Always Love" - Nada Surf
6. "So Now You Know" - The Horrors
7. "About Today" - The National
8. "Finish What I Started" - Will Butler
9. "If You Leave" - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
10. "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye" - Soft Cell
11. "It's My Life" - Talk Talk
12. "We've Been Had" - The Walkmen
13. "Lips Like Sugar" - Echo And The Bunnymen
14. "Don't Lose Your Love" - Ivan & Alyosha
15. "I Don't Want to Change You" - Damien Rice
16. "Going To A Town" - Rufus Wainwright

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Winter 2016 New Music Playlist

With the East Coast bracing for a major snowstorm, it’s handy to have my next playlist ready for consumption. New releases by Cage the Elephant, GIVERS, and The Decemberists are ready to heat things up while a stand-alone single by The Dandy Warhols, “You Are Killing Me,” fits the mood as things grind to a halt. There are also teaser songs from albums dropping soon: Chairlift, School of Seven Bells, Ra Ra Riot, Animal Collective, Pete Yorn and more. Plus check out new bands Knox Hamilton and Sheer along with a pick off the official debut from Car Seat Headrest. Listen via Spotify at this link or as a YouTube playlist

**ANOTHER CHANCE FOR EXTRA CREDIT IF YOU CAN NAME EVERY BAND WITH FAMILY MEMBERS IN THE LINEUP (ANSWER AT THE END OF THIS POST!) 

1. “Badvertise” – Dr. Dog
Philly area band Dr. Dog recently collaborated with Pig Iron Theatre for a performance, Swamp Is On, which included this energetic frenzy of a song. The band is also revisiting songs from their debut back in 2001, a cassette release known as Psychedelic Swamp transformed into an official studio album.

2. “Heart Is Full” – Miike Snow
Swedish/American indie synthpop band Miike Snow dropped this single from an upcoming third album, III. The group was formed in 2009 by producing team Bloodshy & Avant with singer Andrew Wyatt, carving out pop hooks and expertly crafted tunes.

3. “Bent (Roi’s Song)” – DIIV
Zachary Cole Smith’s band is ready with a sophomore album, Is the Is Are, since 2012’s debut, Oshlin. The Brooklyn shoegazers released the single “Bent (Roi’s Song)” in a hazy dreamscape that is their signature sound.

4. “Water” – Ra Ra Riot & Rostam
Ra Ra Riot is an indie rock band formed in 2006 at Syracuse University, now based in Brooklyn. The group collaborated with Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij for the songwriting and production of this single from the upcoming fourth album, Need Your Light.

5. “Romeo” – Chairlift
Synthpop duo Chairlift is releasing a third album since 2005, entitled Moth. With a pulsing beat, “Romeo” is off to the races with layers of Caroline Polachek’s enchanting vocals.

6. “Hightimes” – The Big Pink
The Big Pink is an electronic rock band from London, a quartet of multi-instrumentalists that has been creating music since 2009. “Hightimes” is the anthemic opening track from the upcoming EP Empire Underground.

7. “You Are Killing Me” – The Dandy Warhols
Portland rockers The Dandy Warhols released this single featuring the band’s signature chug of electric guitar.  With singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s deadpan delivery, irony ensues once again.

8. “Record High, Record Low” – GIVERS
Tiffany Lamson’s golden vocals return for this swinging tune off GIVERS’ sophomore album, New Kingdom. The band was formed in Lafayette, Louisiana, after Hurricane Katrina displaced Lamson and guitarist Taylor Guarisco from their apartment in New Orleans; they continue their musical path together.

9. “Why Would I Now?” – The Decemberists
This fall The Decemberists released an EP Florasongs, after seven albums since 2000. The earnest vocal stylings of Colin Meloy convey the obvious retorts in answer to the question, “Why Would I Now?”

10. “Summer Was a Day” – Pete Yorn
Singer-songwriter, guitarist and drummer Pete Yorn will release his seventh studio album since 2000 in March, entitled Arranging Time. He is returning to solo work after performing as The Olms with J.D. King, and this single finds his artistic introspection intact as the poetic visions pour forth.

11. “Confusion” – School of Seven Bells
NYC’s synthpop band School of Seven Bells was creating music during a dark time—founding member Benjamin Curtis was being treating for lymphoma; he died in 2013 despite a positive prognosis. The resulting material is part of a fourth and final album, SVIIB (as the name of the band is often abbreviated). The heartbreakingly sweet single “Confusion” is a tribute to the strength of all involved.

12. “Work It Out” – Knox Hamilton
Knox Hamilton is a quintet from Little Rock, Arkansas, influenced by 70s rock as evident in the debut EP How’s Your Mind. The melodic vocals carry the listener along for a fun ride throughout this optimistic tune of reconciliation.

13. “Trouble” – Cage the Elephant
Cage the Elephant recently relocated from Kentucky to Nashville where its fourth album, Tell Me I’m Pretty, was produced by Dan Auerbach (Black Keys, The Arcs). Matt Schultz’s gritty vocals provide the perfect conduit for their blend of pop and punk rock.

14. “FloriDada” – Animal Collective
Animal Collective is an experimental pop quartet originally formed in Baltimore in 1999. This wacky opening track for its tenth album, Painting With, is actually inspired by the detractors of state of Florida, which the band says gives the area a certain charm.

15. “Something Soon” – Car Seat Headrest
Car Seat Headrest is an indie rock quartet based in Seattle, an outgrowth of Will Toledo’s musical project in his native state of Virginia. He has produced fourteen albums since 2010, but debut album Teens of Style contains older songs like “Something Soon” reworked by a full band as well as new material.

16. “Girl from Conejo Valley” – M. Ward
Portland’s singer-songwriter and guitarist M. Ward is also a member of She & Him plus Monsters of Folk. His ninth solo album since 1999, More Rain, finds tuneful ballads such as the single “Girl from Conejo Valley.”

17. “Believe Your Mine” – Nada Surf
NYC alt quartet Nada Surf also has a ninth album coming out soon, titled You Know Who You Are.  The warm vocals of Matthew Caws have carried this band along into a blissfully mellow territory since 1992.

18. “Monochrome” – Sheer
Sheer is a L.A. four-piece with a fondness for 90s buzzy production since forming in 2010. “Monochrome” is the opening track for the band’s debut album, Uneasy, and as the first song the band ever wrote together, it immediately finds the sweet spot of collaboration.

DID YOU GUESS THREE BANDS?
1. CAGE THE ELEPHANT – BROTHERS Matt & Brad Schultz
2. KNOX HAMILTON – BROTHERS Boots & Cobo Copeland
3. SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS – TWIN SISTERS Alejandra & Claudia Deheza

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie Memoriam & Fave David Bowie Playlist

David Bowie Photo Via KEXP.org (Credit Jimmy King)
I shared my Fave David Bowie Playlist on Friday as a birthday tribute and now post it in memoriam, trying to process the news. He was one of my musical heroes who spoke through directly to me in words and music though the decades. Always a true entertainer, his velvety voice and dance moves on stage communicated a presence larger than life.

I was introduced to the legend when Bowie's "Space Oddity" received constant airplay as an unlikely radio hit in 1970. To my girlhood ears, it was basically a death scene that was sadly tragic and spoke of a longing I could not quite understand. Moving into my teens, he was the one helping me to try and make sense of the world as I copied the lyrics and memorized key lines that were woven into conversation. I can still remember the order of every song found on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dorky, and Young Americans. Amid hair bands and hippie throwbacks, Bowie's appeal became my own teenage day dream, the suave British chameleon constantly challenging our perceptions of the artist.

With "Let's Dance," Bowie created the dance party that was the 80s. His "Serious Moonlight" tour in 1983 was easily named in the top of Our His & Hers 25 Top Concert Lists with my husband Paul. (I was in the city but Paul was at Syracuse University so could easily walk into a Ticketron to nab some tickets!) He was our everything really. With his wife Iman at his side, Bowie was everywhere. We continually absorbed all that he put his name to while he dabbled in what interested him personally. We even supported his acting efforts on screen, from the director's cut of The Man Who Fell to Earth to the brutal Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence when he played a Japanese prisoner of World War II.

Now we learn that the latest release, Black Star, is actually a parting gift composed after Bowie was diagnosed with cancer. I listened to the entire album over the weekend, thinking how frail he sounded. On "Dollar Days" he tells us in song, "I'm dying too." If only this was simply not true. Here's some of my vinyl collection pulled out in tribute...

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Here's to 2016 -- New Releases & LCD Soundsystem News (Plus Fave LCD Soundsystem Playlist)

The best Christmas present I received this year came in the form of a song, "Christmas Will Break Your Heart," a self-described depressing little ditty from James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem (one of my favorite bands ever). Supposedly he'd been singing it to himself for the past eight years, but it landed this year as I struggled through the holidays without my parents who have left the earth within a year of each other. In the vein of "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" which gave rise to the social media term NYILYBYBMD, Murphy's ballad with its emotional build perfectly captured my mood this season.

So here we are in the new year with announcements that not only is LCD headlining Coachella 2016, but heading out on tour in support of a new album after calling it quits four years ago. I was lucky enough to attend the first night of the final week of shows in March of 2011. Our video of the opening song "Dance Yrself Clean" at Terminal 5 still gives me chills to revisit and witness how quickly things kicked into high gear. (That video remains the most popular upload on the NMMatterscorp channel with over 12,500 views - another interesting video is Red Bull Academy interview with James Murphy explaining why he was disbanding the group!) I'll also include our video for "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House," the first tune I heard by the band and making me a fan forever -- it certainly did not disappoint, amped up in the lineup with the requisite crowd surfing. I'm thrilled by the prospect of the new album, but I'm not sure I want to mess with the perfection of this concert experience. However others that didn't get to see LCD live will now get the chance, as it seems they have become more widely known by their absence. Or perhaps its the music fans' hearts growing fonder, my love for the band has only grown that's for sure. Head over to Spotify and take a listen to my Fave LCD Soundsystem Playlist but there's also plenty of new music I'm looking forward to in the months ahead. See my list at the end of this post.



UPCOMING NEW MUSIC RELEASES IN 2016:

January 22 - Chairlift, Moth (Columbia)January 22 - Eleanor Friedberger, New View (Frenchkiss)
February 5 - DIIV, Is the Is Are, (Captured Tracks)
February 12 - School of Seven Bells, SVIIB (Vagrant)
February 12 - James Supercave, Better Strange (Fairfax Recordings)
February 19 - Animal Collective, Painting With (Domino)
February 19 - Ra Ra Riot, Need Your Light (Barsuk) 
February 19 - Choir of Young Believers, Grasque (Ghostly International)
February 19 - Wild Nothing, Life of Pause (Captured Tracks/Bella Union)
March 4 - Nada Surf, You Know Who You Are (Barsuk)
March 4 - Miike Snow, III (Jackalope/Atlantic)
March 4 - M. Ward, More Rain (Merge)
TBA - M83, Gorillaz, Thee Oh Sees & LCD Soundsystem!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Top 20+ Songs of 2015 With YouTube Playlist


Here is another annual list of my most listened to songs of the year - new music that tapped that inner thrill of discovery as well as the soul enriching gifts of artistic expression.  I wax poetic to honor this creative outlet that supplies my daily life with a constantly changing soundtrack, thanks mainly to habitual online listening via KEXP and KCRW. While it would be hard to pick a favorite song of 2015, this playlist sequence makes sense to the ears per usual, not in order of preference. However of special mention are the epic blasts of Beck's "Dreams," Tame Impala's "Let It Happen" and "Wide Open" by The Chemical Brothers, all clocking in over five minutes. There are plenty of reasons to hit the dance floor (or anywhere with movement) - Dan Deacon's "Feel the Lightning," "Oh Man the Future" by De Lux and EL VY's "Return to the Moon" plus anything by Jamie xx.  The Lone Below provides the coda with "Then Came the Morning," which might be the most uplifting ever.

Listen on Spotify or as a YouTube playlist below.

1. "Daffodils"  Mark Ronson (featuring Kevin Parker)
2. "Dreams"  Beck
3. "Feel the Lightning"  Dan Deacon
4. "Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)" –  Father John Misty
5. "Take My Side" – Will Butler
6. "I'm in Love with My Life" – PHASES
7. "Ferus Gallery" – Allah-Las
8. "Fixations" – Gardens & Villas
9. "Memory Remains" – Oberhofer
10. "Loud Places" – Jamie xx (featuring Romy) 
11. "Let it Happen" – Tame Impala
12. "Go Out" – Blur
13. "Satellites" – Mew
14. "Return to the Moon" – EL VY
15. "Reconfiguration" – Other Lives
16. "Breaker" – Deerhunter
17. "In a Future World" – Telekinesis
18. "Boys Latin" – Panda Bear
19. "Oh Man the Future" – De Lux
20. "Wide Open" – The Chemical Brothers
21. "Then Came the Morning" – The Lone Below


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Top Ten Releases of 2015 With Video Highlights

2015 was a great year for music, but I always seem to say that. Philly's NPR music station WXPN had a contest for The Greatest Year in Music recently with winners way back in the sixties but I couldn't even adhere to the idea... every year is worthy of the title if you open up to the idea!  That being said, 2015 started off with a blast of Kevin Parker of Tame Impala singing Mark Ronson's "Daffodils" which was only a warm up for his band's release Currents, probably my favorite of the year. Other more-than-just-pleasant surprises appeared on the scene from Blur, Mew and Deerhunter plus follow ups from Father John Misty and De Lux. Plus Jamie xx of the xx struck out on his own into the dance party fantastic as Dan Deacon continued to light up the neon covered sweat, and Matt Berninger of the National finally got to that long-discussed collabo with Brent Knopf of Ramona Falls and Menomena for a melodic free form groove. And I'm always a softie for some acoustic songs straight from the heart -- this year Ivan & Alyosha easily filled that need.

Dig into all my Top Ten Albums of 2015 as a Spotify playlist along with Other Fave Albums of 2015, and read up on my Top Ten below. Many of the video highlights are from my go-to online radio stations KEXP and KCRW, both of which are moving into larger spaces to accompany more of an audience for live sessions. But there's something about being right in the band's faces (KCRW uses a classroom at Santa Monica College while KEXP looks like large closet) without a crowd's applause, only the sweet silence of awe on my part. Thinking I'm actually going to miss this "fly on the wall" view, especially when I can catch things as they happen live. Oh well, there's still WFUV with similar constraints on space, although videos are posted weeks later.

1. EL VY, Return to the Moon 
EL VY appeared as a new band with a strange and confusing to pronounce name, as familiar band greats Matt Berninger and Brent Knopf took their friendship to another level. The sound turned into a fun ride into more stream of consciousness lyrics wryly conveyed via Berninger's mellow baritone. The pair appeared on KEXP with touring musicians in customized outfits to match the polka dots in the background. During the interview Knopf jokes about The National's "depressing music" and the reaction is just priceless, check it out  at 12:58 in the video for the entire session. Here's the melancholy song "Need A Friend" which brought a poignant end to the set.




2. Blur, Magic Whip
Blur fans couldn't believe their lucky ears when Blur released its first album since 2003. (Thanks to a cancelled festival in Tokyo, the guys were stuck with days worth of time on their hands so naturally started jamming!) With the return of the full lineup Blur was back in fine form, especially with Graham Coxon's stellar guitar riffs. Here's the video for the rockin' "I Broadcast" created with fan footage. 



3. Dan Deacon, Glass Riffer
Baltimore electronic musician Dan Deacon might sound like he's just flipping synth switches but he actually uses vocal manipulation to add a live human aspect to production and performance. Glass Riffer is Deacon's eighth album since 2000 as the dance party continues thanks to his busy touring schedule, including a stop at KCRW last spring. Listen and watch the complicated dedication behind "When I Was Done Dying" or indulge in the entire session archived online




4. De Lux, Generation
L.A. band De Lux provided my song of the summer with "Oh Man The Future," first featured as the Song of the Day on KCRW. The band's singer Sean Guerin brings fond memories of a lanky David Byrne, both in delivery and random references. De Lux also stopped by the KCRW studios and you can also listen to the full session from this synthpop youth sensation.



5. Deerhunter, Fading Frontier
This fall brought a seventh album from fave band Deerhunter, a collection of songs full of hopeful promise and gleaned over pop thanks to frontman Brandon Cox's being hit by a car of all things. Instead going into the dark depths of life that has also included being born with the genetic disorder Marfam syndrome, Cox has embraced life within a band and we are all the recipients of his gifts. This sweetly sung single "Breaker" has Cox sharing the lead vocals with high school pal Lockett Pundt who has long been in the band. The full live session with Deerhunter is in the KCRW archives, along with a lengthy interview with Cox.




6. Father John Misty, I Love You Honeybear
It's hard to believe Josh Tillman a.k.a. Father John Misty, was once a backup musician for Fleet Foxes. As his own frontman he commands the sound and the stage with his wacky worldview, glorious vocals and glistening guitar (listen for the first chord that provides the intro for "Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins" during this recorded session at the WFUV studios). 



7. Jamie xx, In Colour
Jamie Smith, member of the U.K. band xx, released an album of his side interest in dance music to much acclaim this year as Jamie xx. In this video for "I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)," there are glimpses of this dj working the controls along with the adoring crowds with his magic. 



8. Tame Impala, Currents
Tame Impala's single (if you can even call this epic 8 minute song that) "Let It Happen" lifted off into airplay last spring with its extended musical carpet ride ready for all to hop aboard. The album was released months later, full of R&B influences and synth swagger, and is now a Grammy contender for Best Alternative Music Album. 



9. Mew, +-
Danish band Mew also returned to a former lineup with success this year.  The band released its sixth album called +-, the first since 2009. While the group describes itself as "indie stadium," they squeezed into KCRW's studio for a live session this fall. I just swoon over Jonas Bjerre's angelic vocals that cut straight to the core. Listen to "Sometimes Life Isn't Easy" or the entire session and prepare to be musically moved.



10. Ivan & Alyosha, It's All Just Pretend
Seattle's five piece folk pop band Ivan & Alyosha released a sophomore album this year, with savory melodic tunes sung with hearts on those flannel sleeves. Check out this song "It's All Just Pretend" during a live session at their local station KEXP, or settle in for the entire performance to see exactly what I mean -- it's well worth a listen.



Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Jingle Jangle Holiday Playlist for Coolest



Last month I revisited some fave holiday tunes when I was asked to create a playlist for Coolest, that Kickstarter-funded dream cooler with a bluetooth speaker and mixer built right in for an instant party vibe on the go (order one on Amazon here or be extremely nice and ask Santa!)  So I dug into my past holiday playlists from 2011 and 2013, before checking out anything new that might befit this hip brand out of Portland, Oregon.

Last summer I had a blast curating eight themed playlists for the Coolest cocktail guide -- a grand total of 15+ hours of music with 192 bands. I didn't even repeat a group once, except the time "China Cat Sunflower" bleeds into "I Know You Rider" from Europe '72 after my Deadhead husband insisted for the jam band playlist CrispyCrunchy. Other themes revolve around travel (Marixo), beachy types (Waverave), driving tunes (Whitelines), Caribbean sounds (HavanaHeaven), sexy songs (SexlessontheBeach), plus easy summer days (Easybreezy), and awesome kick ass tunes (KGBeast). Sign up with your email on Coolest.com to receive a copy of the drink recipe booklet and head on over to the Coolest Mixmaster account on Spotify to check out the playlists. For now it's time to get in the holiday spirit so listen up!