1. Janet Jackson “Dammn Baby” (From “Unbreakable”)
“Unbreakable” is the first record that Janet has released since the 2009 death of her brother Michael, and it’s stronger than just about anyone could have reasonably expected. If the soundscape of recent R&B is any indication, Janet’s influence has actually somehow been underrated. Whereas, Madonna has increasingly struggled to converse with whatever the most recent zeitgeist is, Jackson has managed to understatedly update her sound successfully time and time again. “Dammn Baby” does not sound out of place in the current R&B climate of The Weeknd or Tinashe, but it is also a logical extension of what she was doing on her two masterpieces of the ‘90s, “Janet” and “The Velvet Rope”. It’s nice to have Janet Jackson back, and it’s exciting to hear that she remains one of our most compelling pop stars, this far into her career.
2. Bill Ryder-Jones “Satellites” (From “West Kirby County Primary”)
Bill Ryder-Jones was a co-founder of The Coral, one of a multitude of bands who were NME-hyped to become the next Blur or Oasis. He stepped away from the group in 2008 to pursue a solo career, and this unassumingly great song bares the imprint of his time spent touring as a guest guitarist for Arctic Monkeys.
3. U.S. Girls “Sed Knife” (From “Half Free”)
U.S. Girls’ Meghan Remy has the swagger and hooks and gnashing teeth of mid-‘90s PJ Harvey, and this propulsive update of a 2012 b-side shakes and thrusts its way through the room with as much confidence as any rock song released this year.
4. Shopping “Straight Lines” (From “Why Choose”)
Post-punk was a genre that emerged from punk as a way to break free of that genre’s increasingly, and ironically, strict musical rules. It’s a bit curious when a band pops up, so many years later, and sounds like they could have opened for Gang of Four or The Slits or Wire. However, Shopping are a great band, writing great songs that sound just as urgent in 2015 as they would have in 1979. Praxis makes perfect.
Timely Tunes Vol. 4
- Miguel “Simple Things” (From “Wildheart”)
- Janet Jackson “Dammn Baby” (From “Unbreakable”)
- Sade “Cherish the Day” (From “Love Deluxe”)
- Blur “The Universal” (From “The Great Escape”)
- Bill Ryder-Jones “Satellites” (From “West Kirby County Primary”)
- T. Rex “Mystic Lady” (From “The Slider”)
- Queens of the Stone Age “I Sat By The Ocean” (From “…Like Clockwork”)
- U.S. Girls “Sed Knife” (From “Half Free”)
- PJ Harvey & John Parish “Black Hearted Love” (From “A Woman A Man Walked By”)
- Gang of Four “What We All Want” (From “Solid Gold”)
- Shopping “Straight Lines” (From “Why Choose”)
- The Slits “Spend, Spend, Spend” (From “Cut”)
Christopher Piercy used to blog at Silence in Architecture and his mother keeps hoping he will revive the site. In the meantime, for a glimpse of how music has impacted his life, you can read “A Personal Music History” which he wrote a few years ago. It also explains quite a bit about our weird family.