Timely Tunes by Christopher Piercy
Ryan Adams “Bad Blood” (From “1989”)
Website: Pax-Am Records
About a month ago, Ryan Adams announced that he was working on a song-for-song cover album of Taylor Swift’s youth-pop opus 1989. What may have initially read as an ironic Twitter joke, quickly segued into something more interesting and sincere when in-studio video clips began to trickle onto social media. I was a fan of 1989, and I’m a fan of Ryan Adams, and the reason this project works is because Adams treats these covers wink-free and with respect. Underneath the pop gloss, 1989 was full of strong, emotionally raw songwriting, and Adams’ last, rather excellent, full-length album was steeped in ‘80s radio rockisms. “Bad Blood” was not my favorite song on the original album, but Adams manages to turn it into something revelatory, by digging deep into its sad core.
Low “Spanish Translation” (From “Ones and Sixes”)
Since 1994’s classic “I Could Live in Hope”, Low have been releasing variations of slow, sad, minimalist, and gorgeous music heavily influenced by groups like Codeine and Galaxie 500. Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s melded, aching voices have been a reliable soundtrack to the bittersweet fade of the light into the night. Their new album is maybe Low’s strongest collection of songs since 2007’s “Drums & Guns” (not that “C’Mon” or “The Invisible Way” were bad; they just weren’t particularly memorable).
Big Grams “Fell In The Sun” (from “Big Grams”)
Big Boi website: Big Boi
Big Boi Twitter: @BigBoi
Phantogram website: Phantogram
Phantogram Twitter: @Phantogram
The electronic indie rock duo Phantogram and rapper Big Boi, one half of Outkast, might seem like a strange pairing, but if their first single together is any indication, it’s a collaboration that works well. This song wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Big Boi’s 2010 sun-kissed solo album “Sir Lucious Left Foot”. Even after a triumphant reunion tour last year, we may never see another Outkast album, but Big Boi’s effortless, kinetic rapping is welcome in whatever form it takes.
Deafheaven “Come Back” (From “New Bermuda”)
Black Metal is an insular genre that doesn’t welcome perceived “outsiders” with open arms. Even as music fans at large are becoming less encumbered by narrow genre-worship, Black Metal is still a tight community that has bristled at Deafheaven, pegging them as fancy haircut-wearing hipsters. But that seems near-sighted at best, especially when the band’s music is this dynamic, nuanced, and great. Early indications seem to be that “New Bermuda” is going to be heavier, thrashier, and even more metallic than their past work (they have mentioned Morbid Angel as a totem this go-round), and “Come Back” showcases everything the band does well in just over nine minutes. The transcendent shoegazing elements are still there in the outro, but the rest of this blistering beast seems intent on quieting anyone who questions the band’s pedigree or intentions.
1. Lambchop – “Up With People” (From “Nixon”)
2. Ryan Adams – “Bad Blood” (From “1989”)
3. Foreigner “I Want to Know What Love Is” (From “Agent Provocateur”)
4. Codeine – “New Year’s” (From “Frigid Stars”)
5. Low – “Spanish Translation” (From “Ones and Sixes”)
6. Fleetwood Mac – “Sisters of the Moon” (From “Tusk”)
7. OutKast – “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” (From “Aquemini”)
8. Big Grams – “Fell in the Sun” (From “Big Grams”)
9. Marvin Gaye – “My Love is Waiting” (From “Midnight Love”)
10. Iron Maiden – “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (>From “The Number of the Beast”)
11. Deafheaven – “Come Back” (From “New Bermuda”)
12. Drudkh “Cursed Sons I” (From “A Funeral Cut Short”)
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.