This mellow tune is from the 2009 Fool’s Gold debut album. The band is worth following because their music fuses many styles and influences together, creating a sound that is, amazingly, kind of singular. Though formed in L.A., their music sometimes features Hebrew lyrics instead of English lyrics, creating a style that is tricky to pin down. Their different sound, in addition to the musical proficiency of the band members, makes Fool’s Gold fun to listen to for lengthy amounts of time.
“Tease Me” -Lianne La Havas
Lianne La Havas received some early praise for her 2012 debut album, but she still has not gotten the kind of attention that I think she could have. She can hold her own on the guitar, and her smooth voice miraculously transforms upsetting, sometimes bitter, feelings into beautiful songs. Hopefully, with the help of notable sets at music festivals and in big cities, she will soon be a more widely-recognized musician.
“Fake Palindromes”- Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird has a huge catalogue, ranging from Sufjan Stevens-like quirky sound experiments to antiquated folk tunes, with the occasional rock outburst. He’s known for putting on incredible live shows, but his music is original and captivating enough to still sound great coming from a fuzzy car radio. This song is one of his more rocked-out numbers, and it makes me want it to be summer again so I can blast his music in the backyard.
“I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” (Cover) –JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound
If you’ve ever listened to Wilco, then you will understand how different this cover is from their original version of this song. JC Brooks is great at recognizing his musical predecessors, and adding to their work. He has interesting original music too, but this cover is a staple in his upbeat and entertaining live act.
“Retreat!” –Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
This group has been around, in some form or another, since the mid-1990s, but they have really only achieved a fair amount of public attention in the past few years. The video for “Retreat!” gives a visual representation of the artistic vision of the band. They clearly draw on older funk, soul, and early rock styles, but they also have an eye toward innovation. They know how to sway between bitterness, sassiness, and light-heartedness without losing control.
I spent about the last ten years feeling totally burnt out on Beatles music because I was raised by a couple of huge Lennon/McCartney fans. Lately, however, I’ve found myself getting back into some of their music. I still feel a little queasy at the sound of “Yellow Submarine,” but their “Rain”/”Paperback Writer” 7-inch got a ton of playing time on my stereo over the summer, and I can no longer deny the pull that the grainier Beatles stuff has over me.
“Ecce Homo” –Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus are supposedly working on another album, hopefully to be released this year. They are great to listen to if you are having an existential crisis and need something to relate to, or are stuck in traffic and need someone to release some aggression for you, or even if you are just bored and want to rock out. I can’t wait for more music from the band, but their existing songs are helping the wait seem shorter.
“Lovers in the Parking Lot”- Solange
I’ve heard a number of people say things along the lines of, “It would suck to be Beyonce’s sister because she will always be stuck in her shadow.” True enough, Solange will probably never be as huge of a commercial success as Beyonce, but her smaller following is in no way representative of her talent. She’s not as big as Beyonce because almost nobody is as big as Beyonce. Solange’s music is still entertaining; she’s clearly a talented singer and dancer, and her talent as a visual artist certainly rivals her sister’s. Her 2013 EP exemplified her best musical characteristics, and the subsequent tour gave her a way to stage her talents for larger audiences than ever before. She keeps proving, over and over again, that she is a stand-alone talent, and has earned all of the recognition she has received, and so much more.
“You’re Not Good Enough” -Blood Orange
Dev Hynes, known in his current music project as Blood Orange, released a second album last year. His music draws on older funk, with a bouncy bass beat and swift guitar strokes, but it also pushes forward into a more modern smooth sound. As a result, the music is pretty versatile, and fits several atmospheres. It works as both background music at a gathering and as something that can be closely listened to alone.
“On Coming From A Broken Home, Part 2”- Gil Scott-Heron
A lot of people consider Gil Scott-Heron to have peaked in the 1970s, and swept under a cultural rug after that. However, I don’t think he ever really went away, and I’ve found his music randomly mentioned in surprising places. A revisit to his music quickly reveals his remarkable command over ideas and the words needed to express them. His music shows his talent as a poet, composer, philosopher, and teacher. It is both scary and amazing that many of his words still ring true, despite several decades passed from his most impactful releases.