It’s been a pretty frightening and disorienting week, right? It’s times like these when I really appreciate the sanity-reinforcing power of music, and for the thirty-third iteration of Timely Tunes, we have everything from smooth yacht rock to towering doom metal to get you through the days ahead.
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Thundercat (feat. Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald) “Show You The Way” (From “Drunk”)
While I was growing up, Steely Dan, Christopher Cross, and The Doobie Brothers were a heavy presence in my home. I ran screaming to 2Pac, Slayer, and Nirvana for refuge from the onslaught of these Downy-soft sounds, but sometime in my early-to-mid 20’s I dove back into “yacht rock” for purely ironic reasons. The voices of Kenny Loggins, Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald, and Christopher Cross became the soundtrack to many a cheap champagne-fueled party until I finally had to admit that I had become an honest-to-god fan of this cheesy music. Cut to 2017 and here is modern virtuoso Thundercat bringing back the dad-short vocals of Loggins and McDonald for a new duet that sounds timeless and reassuring in what has been one of the most stressful weeks in modern world history. It’s three and a half minutes of blissful escapism that we really needed.
Samantha Crain “Oh Dear Louis” (From “You Had Me At Goodbye”)
If there is one thing that makes me really proud of my home state of Oklahoma, it’s that we produce a lot of great artists and songwriters. Samantha Crain has been steadily making the case that she might be the best young songwriter in the state. An evocative lyricist who is also unafraid of making political waves, Crain represents the kind of strong, artful voice that Middle America needs right now.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever “French Press” (From “The French Press EP”)
The band’s name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but the jangly hooks of this Melbourne band stick. Last year they released the stellar and somewhat overlooked EP “Talk Tight”, and this new single is even better; all forward momentum and impeccable pop chops.
Pallbearer “Thorns” (From “Heartless”)
I’ll make a bold declarative statement here: in the past five years, no one has made melodic doom metal as consistently satisfying as Pallbearer. “Sorrow and Extinction” and “Foundations of Burden” were both essentially flawless albums, and their live sound is titanic. Unsurprisingly, their upcoming “Heartless” is easily one of my personally most-anticipated records of 2017 and the first single does not disappoint. The band recently copped to being giant Boston fans in an interview with Rolling Stone, and while that’s not the first group that comes to mind when I listen to Pallbearer, there is something about Brett Campbell’s sky-scraping vocals that nods to 70’s arena rock. Melodic touchstones aside, Pallbearer continues to cement themselves as one of the definitive modern torch-bearers for uncompromisingly heavy music.
William Basinski “A Shadow In Time” (From “A Shadow in Time”)
Basinski’s “The Disintegration Loops” remains one of the defining moments in modern experimental music: a heart-stopping work released in the wake of 9/11 that still crushes me. This new album, composed of two typically lengthy tracks, is another evocative work. The title track takes its time unfolding in elegiac beauty; a slow motion piece of meditative melancholy. The other side of the record, “For David Robert Jones”, is a gorgeous eulogy to David Bowie.
TIMELY TUNES, VOL. 33
1. Delroy Wilson “Better Must Come”
2. Donald Fagen “New Frontier”
3. Thundercat (feat. Kenny Loggins & Michael McDonald) “Show You The Way”
4. Amazing Rhythm Aces “The End is Not in Sight (The Cowboy Tune)”
5. J.J. Cale “Thirteen Days”
6. Samantha Crain “Oh Dear Louis”
7. Victor Jara “Manifesto”
8. The Go-Betweens “Twin Layers of Lightning”
9. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever “French Press”
10. The Saints “Untitled”
11. R.E.M. “Electrolite”
12. Erkin Koray “Cemalim”
13. Blue Oyster Cult “I Love the Night”
14. Pallbearer “Thorns”
15. Black Sabbath “Solitude”
16. Nils Frahm “Ode”
17. William Basinski “A Shadow in Time”