Once In A While…

Once in a while I come across something so good it feels like it came out of a different world. This happens more often with music, because I’m always hungrily searching for new stuff.

Most of the time I come across artists whose work may be good, but I feel like I can tell what they’ve been listening to. Nothing bores me more than coming across a band and thinking I bet I can name your top five favorite albums. But occasionally I come across an artist or group who, when I listen to them, I think What the hell have you been listening to? Where did you even come up with these ideas? 

Case in point: Porcupine Tree. I mean, one can tell they’ve heard some Pink Floyd, but there’s absolutely nothing derivitave in their sound. It’s something totally new and interesting.  (And then you have Riverside, whose top five albums, I bet, are all by Porcupine Tree.)

Eventually I’ll make a playlist of albums that I feel this way about–once I come up with a good title for it.

For now, here’s my latest astoundingly good discovery: the album, In The Rainbow Rain, by Okkervil River. It’s beautifully recorded, so listen through your good headphones so you can savor the the variety of smooth, crackly, mellow, boxy, and washy textures. If you want a sample, the first track that caught my attention was “Pulled Up The Ribbon”. But if you’re a lyrics lover, I’d start with the dark, surreally beautiful opening track, “Famous Tracheotomies”.

Check out In The Rainbow Rain, by Okkervil River on Apple Music, or YouTube, or Spotify.

Edit: Turns out the lyric video for “Famous Tracheotomies” is incredible. Check it out here.



Playlist 1: “Smoldering Fire and Early Winter”

For each of these songs, the whole album is good and if you like the song, you’ll probably like the album. So think of the playlist as a bunch of doors to more good stuff.

Spotify Link  |  Apple Music Link

  1. “Falling Into Me” by Let’s Eat Grandma – How was this band name not taken?
  2. “The Cold Wind” by Greta Van Fleet – Yes, they’re obviously derivative of Led Zeppelin, but Zeppelin was even worse. And the NYT review of this album was spot on with its conclusion that the album just isn’t good enough for what it should be. But, the songs are fun, and their performances are fun, and fun is good. This isn’t a beautifully aged bone-in Kobe ribeye; it’s Waffle House’s steak and eggs, which is still pretty damn good, especially if you’ve been partying.   
  3. “Hold On” by Binkbeats – Just two guys doing some very skillful, very groovy, loop-centric instrumental improv.
  4. “New Sky” by Rüfüs Du Sol – RDS is a full band playing music that sounds like it was made by a single (very skilled) dj. I discovered them when they were the opener at Red Rocks for Chromeo. Chromeo’s live show is legendary, but RDS outshone them hands down, even though they’re much more chill. They just exude a sincerity in their performance and an intimacy with the audience that makes you an instant devotee.
  5. “Superposition” by Young the Giant – New album is more palatably poppy than Mind Over Matter, but the songs are solid. I’d be proud to have made this album, even though it sounds a bit crushed and smoothed over compared to their last two.
  6. “Eyes that Kill” by CooBee Coo – Anyone remember The Eels? Or the opening theme song to The Jinx? CooBee Coo instantly made me think of that, which is a good thing
  7. “Dressed to Suppress” by Metric – Smart and musically solid. Like if Poe and Depeche Mode had a baby and it grew up in the 90s.   
  8. “Cusco” by Allie Crow Buckley – Not my usual fare, but when I heard this song I thought “man this is a really remarkable piece of art”. It’s so honest and raw that it makes you feel grateful for what the artists has done for us.
  9. “The More I Sleep The Less I Dream” by We Were Promised Jetpacks – This album is a dreamy, dark haze of all the feelings that go along with going through hard times, when life isn’t turning out how you imagined it. Thing Queens of the Stone Age + My Morning Jacket + lying on your living room floor at 2am wondering if you should get high.
  10. “House in L.A.” By Jungle – Jungle makes music that makes you feel cool for listening to it. It’s sexy and classy, it moves, and it’s a little creepy too.
  11. “Figure It Out” by Royal Blood – One of my drum set students wanted to learn this song. Somehow I missed this album when it came out.
  12. “You Moved Away” by Death Cab for Cutie – About a year ago, my whole social group in Columbia suddenly dissolved, with nearly each person moving away from our shared center. This song got me right in the feels. Miss you guys.
  13. “Orlando” by Blood Orange – First song on the new album. Super sexy.
  14. “White Mist” by The Pineapple Thief – Does anyone know the story on these guys got the world’s greatest drummer to join their band?
  15. “Secret of Life” by Lord Huron – The album: an alternately manic and somber opium-induced waking dream transmitted over an old wave radio.
  16. “Flight of the Flamingo” by Flamingosis – Work music that’ll make you smile.
  17. “I Belong In Your Arms” by Chairlift – You’re sixteen and you’re kissing someone with a mouth full of pop rocks.
  18. “Sunrays” by Catching Flies – If Xanax were music.
  19. “Not for Sale” by Sudan Archives – What the hottest, smartest girl in your cultural theory class is listening to. (Thanks, Kelly.)
  20. “O.M.G. (I’m All Over It)” by Jenn Champion – You’re singing along, in the shower, before going out with your friends, and it’s gonna be a great night.