St. Vincent- “Huey Newton”
I went to the Riviera Theater this Saturday to see St. Vincent play, and got to witness Annie Clark showcase her command of the stage and creativity on guitar. I saw St. Vincent’s tours for Actor and Strange Mercy several years ago, so I’ve been lucky enough to see Clark progress throughout most of her solo career. Her performance on Saturday was a testament to the fact that she is a singular musician and writer right now, and she has the creativity to continue writing for a long time.
James Vincent McMorrow- “If I Had A Boat”
Here’s the opening track from James Vincent McMorrow’s 2010 debut full-length. He released his second album a few months ago. His most recent album is packed with great songs, but I still like to return to this song, which fits my mood in these rainy late winter/early spring weeks.
I know close to nothing about hip hop, so I have no idea how fashionable Lizzo is, but for some reason this song really pulls me in. The chorus is simple but catchy, and its lyrics are relatable. Lizzo also breaks out and sings in high speed at certain moments, and she throws out each rapid sentence with impressive ease.
Angel Olsen- “Forgiven/Forgotten”
Angel Olsen released her third full-length studio album a couple months ago, and I have been hooked on this song since. Her recent album has attracted some pretty solid positive reviews from people in many places, notably from Pitchfork and NPR’s “All Songs Considered.” Hopefully, the positive reviews will help introduce Olsen to wider audiences, and make it possible for her to continue production of music.
Cate le Bon- “Burn Until the End”
I never really listened to Cate le Bon until last year’s release of her third full-length album, but her most recent music inspired me to look into her first album, which offered up this dark gem. I hope she finds enough success to stick around for a while, because songs like “Burn Until the End” demonstrate her songwriting strength, and her ability to present unhappiness without losing command of the song.
Max Roach ensemble with Abbey Lincoln- “Freedom Day”
Thanks to an African American literature class, I have spent a lot of time this semester listening to recordings of jazz icons, particularly Max Roach. The entire Freedom Now Suite is a must-listen for anyone with even the slightest inclination toward jazz, but I particularly like “Freedom Day” because all of the instrumentalists have kickass solos in the song, and the passion each person puts into his or her part makes the music powerful. Max Roach and his band members have are so talented on their instruments that they can produce complicated jazz music while rocking out more aggressively than many confident punk musicians.
The Mamas and the Papas- “California Dreaming”
This song is in the same vein as the Fleet Foxes song “White Winter Hymnal,” in that the lyrics are sung from the perspective of someone stuck in a long and gloomy winter, yet the music behind the lyrics, as well as the distinct harmonies, cause the song to conjure rich thoughts of warm summer weather.
Animal Collective- “Peacebone”
Animal Collective is another band with music that makes me vividly imagine summer. As a result, I find myself listening to them all of the time, because they fit my summer mood, but they also offer comfort when it is nasty outside. “Peacebone,” in particular, never gets old for me, even though it gets stuck in my head at least once a week. The lyrics are weird but charming, and the bass beat moves the song at a continuously danceable pace.
Joanna Newsom- “Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowry”
I tend to include Joanna Newsom in a lot of my Monday Mixers, because I find all of her albums hypnotically beautiful. This song shows Newsom’s penchant for quaint lyrics, but her demeanor makes her antiquated style seem charming and natural. Her harp-playing makes the song loveably fragile and calming.