Are you feeling a little overwhelmed by a constant barrage of news and politics? Turn it off and tune in to some music instead.
“Turn off the news, forget Facebook and Twitter. Don’t read the paper. Let the world turn, and the seasons pass on their own. Then wake up in the middle of the night a year later and ask yourself if anything is amiss. If so, let go of more media. Let go of more light. Wake again and ask if anything is lacking. Repeat as necessary until you have remembered what it means to be a person, because this is the one thing everyone forgets.” ~ Clark Strand
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Coco Hames “When You Said Goodbye” (From “Coco Hames”)
Special thanks to The Best Show with Tom Scharpling for turning me on to this beautiful, country-kissed track. The show deserves a plug because I listen to it every single week and, in addition to being one of the funniest shows on the planet, it also has great musical guests (Kurt Vile was a guest last week). This is the first solo record for Hames, who is best known as the frontwoman of The Ettes. Hames points to an early infatuation with Dusty Springfield, Patsy Cline, and Bobbie Gentry as inspiration, and the bittersweet yet sunny tone of this track, cut in Nashville, shares that DNA.
Ryan Adams “Prisoner” (From “Prisoner”)
The prolificacy of Ryan Adams is a gift, but it can also make navigating his dense discography a bit overwhelming. I was a big fan of his former band Whiskeytown and thought that his first solo record, “Heartbreaker”, was an absolute classic. Sometime after that, he sort of lost me though. I would occasionally peek back in to see what he was up to (2007’s “Easy Tiger”, for example), but it wasn’t until 2014’s self-titled album that I decided to hop back aboard the train. For whatever reason, the 80’s MOR hues of that record struck an un-ironic chord with me during a time when I was going through a breakup. “Prisoner” might be Ryans’ “divorce album” (he and pop star Mandy Moore ended their marriage in 2015), but it doesn’t wallow, but soothe.
Jlin “Nyakinyua Rise” (From “Dark Lotus”)
I have actually been listening to this track for a few weeks now, and it has taken me that long to wrap my head around it. Footwork is a hyperkinetic, high BPM style of dance music popularized in Chicago, with the late DJ Rashad as one of its major pioneers. In recent years, Gary, Indiana’s Jerilynn Patton (aka Jlin) has emerged as the most dynamic explorer of the genre; her thrilling productions stand out in a crowded field of sometimes hard to distinguish artists. This track pushes footwork into exciting new territory, utilizing the djembe (a tuned hand drum popular in West Africa) instead of a standard kick drum, and it is addictively off-balance.
Pharmakon “No Natural Order” (From “Contact”)
This will, most certainly, not be for everyone. Pharmakon is the brutal noise project of Margaret Chardiet, and she sings the body apocalyptic on this track from her upcoming fourth album. In an artist statement released about the record, she says, “We are each nothing but a single, short-lived cell in a vast organism which itself will one day die.” Maybe not the most upbeat outlook, but one which makes a lot of sense in this post-truth, far-right hellscape of climate change deniers, propaganda vomit, and war profiteers.
TIMELY TUNES, VOL. 36
1. The Rollers “One Little Piece”
2. Dusty Springfield “Oh No! Not My Baby”
3. Coco Hames “When You Said Goodbye”
4. Bob Dylan “One Too Many Mornings (Live from London 5/26/66)”
5. The Allman Brothers Band “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More”
6. Jason Isbell “Stockholm”
7. Ryan Adams “Prisoner”
8. The Smiths “Well I Wonder”
9. Candido “Ghana Spice (Part One)”
10. Soungalo Coulibaly “Gbwegbwe”
11. Jlin “Nyakinyua Rise”
12. Paul McCartney “Secret Friend”
13. Yoko Ono “Greenfield Morning I Pushed an Empty Baby Carriage All Over the City”
14. Pharmakon “No Natural Order”