This week, Timely Tunes features music from Kesha, The National, The Dream Syndicate, Lo Tom, Yumi Zouma, and K A R Y Y N.
Kesha “Bastards” (From “Rainbow”)
Kesha, who at the turn of this decade, was a brash, colorful pop star with a personality as big as Lady Gaga or Katy Perry with hits to match. “Rainbow” is her first album in five years, due to a horrifying legal battle with her former producer, who is accused of doing some pretty evil shit. The album is a stylistic kaleidoscope and a powerful statement of empowerment and reclamation, and her strongest to date. Opening cut, “Bastards”, is a beautiful country ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Kacey Musgraves album. It’s an ode to not giving up in the face of horrible people and awful situations that sounds even more reassuring after the events in Charlottesville.
The National “Carin at the Liquor Store” (From “Sleep Well Beast”)
“Carin at the Liquor Store” isn’t The National reinventing their wheel: it’s another in a long line of brooding, melodically rich ballads. But they are so untouchably good at what they do, that I don’t mean that as any sort of slight. Where this song DOES depart a bit from past explorations is that lyricist and singer Matt Berninger trades in his usual abstractions for more open, direct references to his real-life wife. It feels intimate and grand at the same time.
The Dream Syndicate “Glide” (From “How Did I Find Myself Here?”)
One of the more unexpected reunion albums by one of the most under-appreciated bands of their era. The Dream Syndicate took their name, somewhat confusingly for amateur record collectors, from a 1960s collaboration by La Monte Young, Tony Conrad, and John Cale, and merged psychedelic and garage punk influences into 1982’s “The Days of Wine and Roses”, still one of the most impressive and singular debuts by any band. The called it quits in 1989, but everything old is new again, and “Glide” has the energy and power of a band half their age.
Lo Tom “Overboard” (From “Lo Tom”)
This is the supergroup of my teenage dreams: David Bazan and TW Walsh (of Pedro the Lion) with Jason Martin (of Starflyer 59), and Trey Many (of Starflyer 59 and Velour 100). For a very brief blip in my mid-teens I became convinced that I should stay away from secular music and seek out more spiritually edifying bands. The problem is, when you have already been exposed to Pavement, The Velvet Underground, and Sonic Youth, most Christian rock just ain’t gonna cut it, no matter how much you want to please Jesus. Pedro the Lion and Starflyer 59 were two of the bands on a very short list that I discovered during that dark time, and two that have continued to stick with me over the years. All of that to say: I was pretty excited about this album, and “Overboard” is a basically perfect earworm of a song. It makes me feel 15 again, but without all the guilt.
Yumi Zouma “Depths (Pt. I)” (From “Willowbank”)
Irresistible soft-focus disco bliss from New Zealand that gives me flash backs to a simpler time when Obama was President, and I could go to the beach with Tanlines, Air France, and Cut Copy as my soundtrack and not worry about impending civil war or nuclear fallout. Truly halcyon days. What was I saying? Oh yeah…this band is delightful.
K A R Y Y N “MOVING MASSES” (From “of Light”)
A beautiful, emotionally overpowering selection by musician K A R Y Y N composed for Samantha Shay’s recent opera “of Light”. Shay’s latest work arose out of a mentorship from unequaled performance artist Marina Abramovic and has been heavily praised by Bjork (and many others). Made out of overlapping vocal loops, and little else, “MOVING MASSES” is an incredible work of art.
TIMELY TUNES, VOL. 56
1. Dolly Parton “My Blue Tears”
2. Kesha “Bastards”
3. Glen Campbell “Too Late to Worry – Too Blue to Cry”
4. The National “Carin at the Liquor Store”
5. Television “The Dream’s Dream”
6. The Dream Syndicate “Glide”
7. The Rain Parade “No Easy Way Down”
8. Swervedriver “Deep Seat”
9. Lo Tom “Overboard”
10. His Name Is Alive “This World Is Not My Home / Home”
11. Air France “Collapsing Outside Your Doorstep”
12. Yumi Zouma “Depths (Pt. I)”
13. Tanlines “Nonesuch”
14. Comit (ASC) “Under Your Spell”
15. David Sylvian “A Fire In The Forest”
16. A R Y Y N “MOVING MASSES”
17. Jurg Frey “Extended Circular Music No. 2”
18. Robert Ashley Opera Ensemble “Celestial Excursions: Act I – Is It Light Yet? Love Letter, Pt. 1”
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