May 9 2014
It’s porch weather this week. Finally, it is just the right temperature to sit outside at night, grab a beer, call some friends, and play some music. When the playlist is getting started up, or coming to a lull, and you are called up to the plate to make a decision, think of these songs. Come to the playlist with confidence and knock them out of the park with 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To. We are sure that your friends won’t be able to stop too.
Walter Martin- Rattlesnakes
This song is a story of a misunderstood rattlesnake. The general conception is that snakes will squeeze you so hard that they will bust your spleen, or that they will eat you and your hat. This song, however, told from the perspective of an anthropomorphized snake, seeks to amend this misconception. He wants you to know that, “we’ve got musical tails that shake. We don’t want to bite you, all we really want to do is dance.”
Some people are going to say that this is a children’s song, but I think it’s more serious than that. Just because it is a little silly, highly imaginative, non-threatening, and pleasant does not mean that shouldn’t be taken seriously. Art that is considered to be for children oftentimes tells us greater things about life. Like how we shouldn’t draw conclusions about something, like a rattlesnake perhaps, because of its image and reputation. Maybe things that we think are scary really aren’t that scary. Maybe they just want to dance.
Walter Martin’s debut album, We’re All Young Together, will be out this Tuesday (May 13th). It comes with the help from Karen O and Nick Zinner of the Yea Yea Yeas, Matt Beringer of The National, Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen (the band that Walter Martin was in before he made this record) and other very reputable musicians.
Listen if you like: David Sedaris’ book – Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, Kimya Dawson, They Might Be Giants
Ben Khan- Youth
Ben Khan doesn’t look like anything special. He looks like an average dude, with quite an ordinary name. When I first heard of his EP, I was wondering why I should pay attention. But like every other artist, I always give them a chance. After listening through some samples, I instantly downloaded his release---and that should speak volumes with that action alone. Some relate his first EP, 1992, to artists like Jai Paul, but that would be greatly unfair. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, he said it best when he said, “If you want to understand something, you naturally want to associate it with something else.” That statement sums up the sometimes outright silliness of music comparisons in general. I couldn’t have said it better myself---which is why I didn’t. On “Youth”, Khan blends the right amount of bluesy-soul vibes with a knocking electronic groove to make it a song that you wouldn’t want to miss out on to kick off this summer. Keep Ben Khan on your artist watch list (assuming you have one…I do at least) in the future, because as you can hear, this is a guy who already knows his sound and it can only get stronger from here on out.
Sonny Knight and the Lakers- Hey Girl
There is neo-soul, retro soul, and then there is the real deal. Sonny Knight is the real deal. He was there. In 1953 he sang gospel harmonies with his mother. In 1965, at 17 years old, he recorded a single, “Tears on my Pillow” as a doo-wop group called Little Sonny Knight & the Cymbols. At 18 years old he enlisted in the army and fought in Vietnam. In the 70’s he played in Minneapolis funk band, Haze. Then the music industry got the best of Knight. Haze broke up and Knight became a truck driver. After a lifetime on and off the musical fringes, in 2012, Sonny finally caught a break. After being asked to perform with the Valdons for Secret Stash’s release of Twin Cities Funk & Soul compilation the powers that be recognized the power and soul of Sonny Knight and signed him to a record deal.
Hey Girl is a release of soul. After being pent up for years and years while Sonny was driving trucks and getting by, Hey Girl feels like an explosion of energy. The entire album, I’m Still Here, is like this. It’s a lifetime of heart, soul, and emotion crammed into 11 songs. This doesn’t happen often.
Sonny Knight & the Lakers debut album, I’m Still Here, is out now.
Listen if you like: Sam and Dave’s Soul Man, Sharon Jones, funky drum breaks, the genuine article.
Habibi – I Got the Moves
“I got the moves, hey, I think you do, too.” Habibi’s new song, “I Got the Moves” came out just in time with summer around the corner. This beach track harmonized female vocals and a groovin’ beat has got us dancing in the office and bumpin’ it from our rolled-down car windows. Not to mention, the perfect 60’s-inspired music video is just the icing on the cake for this great jam and further pushes our love for Habibi. Habibi, which is Arabic for “my love,” is an American rock band from Brooklyn, New York that’s been pumping out rock girl-group harmonies with a unique Iranian twist since 2011.
Check out more of Habibi on their new self-titled LP from Burger Records out now.
Listen if you like: Surf rock chicks, lo-fi grooves, Burger Records, Tacocat
Album of the Week:
tUnE-yArDs- Nikki Nack
Selected song: Wait for a Minute
In 2014 it is hard to produce music that sounds different from everything else. Merrill Garbus, the brain that is tUnE-yArDs, manages to make music that is uniquely her own. She does it using the same tools as other artists today. She uses a loop pedal to create most of her songs. This is not uncommon. The loop pedal is going through a bit of a golden age right now. Artists like Kishi Bashi, Sylvan Esso, and Baths released albums that heavily rely on the loop pedal. And those are just albums that were released this week. Every week there are more artists using loop pedals. It makes a lot of sense. The loop pedal is exact. It’s mathematical. Precise. Many of the things that musicians struggle with. And it’s cheap. Instead of having 6 people in a band, a musician can have one loop pedal that loops a drum line, loops a bass line, loops a synth, loops a harmonizing vocal, and then the musician can act as a front man/woman over a band of their own. This also lets one artist have complete creative control over a project. With tUnE-yArDs, we get Merrill Garbus in her entirety. We get the unique person that she is, and her music reflects that. She doesn’t concentrate on building slowly with loops, but rather layering percussive elements and mixing them into non-traditional time signatures, creating her own world of music. She is playful, cultured, experimental, she has confidence, she has guilt, she has a world view, and she is also really really good at looping sounds into something that is just groovy.
tUnE-yArDs new album, Nikki Nack is out now. I know Dan at Rushmor records has a couple copies if you want to pick one up.
Listen if you like: The previous tUnE-yArDs album, loop based electronic world sounding music, and on this album listen if you like more of an R&B feel.