Another week into an increasingly dystopian world, but at least we have new music from Mac Demarco, Future Islands, and others to temporarily distract us from alternative facts and gum-swallowing hellbots. The final track on this playlist is by David Axelrod, the influential composer and producer whose grand instrumentals have been sampled extensively by DJs and hip-hop artists. He passed away this week at the age of 83.
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Mac Demarco “This Old Dog” (From “This Old Dog”)
Mac Demarco’s music does not make a big scene. His last LP, 2014’s “Salad Days”, was a breezy, occasionally (intentionally) sloppy work that put him in line with other contemporary goofball slackers like Kurt Vile who hide great songs under a haze of self-effacement. His public persona is charmingly comedic, if not outright scatological, and the one time I saw him in concert, there was an element of punk chaos that isn’t apparent in his recorded output. Mac has mentioned that James Taylor and Paul Simon were the two artists he was listening to the most during the writing of the new record. Never forget that Paul Simon once sang “Still Crazy After All These Years” in a turkey costume on SNL.
Future Islands “Ran” (From “The Far Field”)
In 2014, Future Islands were already four albums deep into a workmanlike career when they became a surprise viral hit on YouTube, due to an idiosyncratic and singular performance on The Late Show with David Letterman. It was a lightning in a bottle moment, but how do you follow that up? Fortunately, the band seemed as surprised as anyone by the sudden attention, and they have continued to just do what they do best: writing melodic synth-rock that oscillates between sanguine and bittersweet, but never feels insincere or pretentious. Vocalist Sam Herring is a rare treasure.
Lord Echo “Just Do You” (feat. Mara TK) (From “Harmonies”)
I’ll be honest that when I first heard this track, I really did assume it was some lost Caribbean disco deep cut from the 70’s. Maybe yet another ace discovery from crate-digging archival label Numero Group? Shockingly, it’s actually the work of a current multi-instrumentalist, polyglot producer from…New Zealand, of all places. It’s excellent.
Dayme Arocena “It’s Not Gonna Be Forever”
A classically trained singer, composer, arranger, choir director, and band leader from Havana, Dayme Arocena is one of the most talented and exciting voices in modern Cuban jazz and neo-soul. This track is impeccable and timeless.
Syd “Body” (From “Fin”)
“Fin” is the striking solo debut for Syd, lead vocalist of Odd Future affiliated R&B group The Internet. This is sleek, face-flushing neon-glow R&B for the bedroom that nods to Aaliyah at her most seductive.
Timely Tunes, Vol. 34
1. Broadcast “Before We Begin”
2. Elvis Costello with Burt Bacharach “Toledo”
3. Mac Demarco “This Old Dog”
4. Paul Simon “Something so Right”
5. Jonathan Richman “Parties In The U.S.A.”
6. Future Islands “Ran”
7. Roxy Music “Same Old Scene”
8. Curtis Mayfield “Do It All Night (Long Version)”
9. Lord Echo “Just Do You” (feat. Mara TK)
10. Penny Penny “Shichangani”
11. Hermeto Pascoal “Alexandre, Marcelo e Pablo”
12. Dayme Arocena “It’s Not Gonna Be Forever”
13. Hailu Mergia “Yemiasleks Fikir”
14. MF Doom “Saffron”
15. Syd “Body”
16. Erykah Badu “Gone Baby, Don’t Be Long”
17. David Axelrod “The Human Abstract”