This is an eclectic playlist with multiple musical “rabbit holes” to fall down – so buckle in. There’s a healthy back and forth between older music, newer music, and it all feels somehow referential. Cultivate your inner musicologist with me. Here’s the list, copied twice with a notated version below.
The iTunes link is https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/2018-april/pl.u-vxy6Kd6TLApAY
If anybody makes it on another platform and wants to share, I’ll add it too.
1. “Mambo Rapidito” by Orquesta Akokan
2. “I like it like that” by Pete Rodriguez
3. “I Like It” by Cardi B
4. “La Rhumba” by Bobby Digital.
5. “Campfire” by Amine
6. “Kevin’s Heart” by J. Cole
7. “A$AP forever (feat. Moby) by A$AP Rocky
8. “Top of the World” by Kimbra
9. “Sea Lion” by Sage Francis
10. “What the Writer Meant” by Hop Along.
11. “Six Wave Hold-down” by Hot Snakes
12. “Doom and Gloom” by Dark Times
13. “400 Bucks” by the Reverend Horton Heat
14. “Life of Sin” by Sturgill Simpson
15. “Welfare Music” by the Bottlerockets
16. “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” by Ashley McBryde
17. “Whiskey Bottle (live acoustic version)” by Uncle Tupelo
18. “If we were Vampires” by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
19. “The Deconstruction” by Eels
20. “You Worry Me” by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21. “Forever Dream Girl” by Kyle Craft
1. “Mambo Rapidito” by Orquesta Akokan. There’s a parallel between how jazz went to Cuba and became Cuban Jazz and how folk went to the American South and became country. These guys aren’t just a throw back, there’s real progressivism here.
2. “I like it like that” by Pete Rodriguez. Good party music will always be good party music. I’d time travel to a NYC 1960s boogaloo block party any day.
3. “I Like It” by Cardi B. Cardi knows a city block party, that’s why they sampled Rodriguez and put her on it with a couple of Spanish verses too. Progressive enough for me – this is my song of the summer pick (I have a feeling this could be inescapable). Her singing on the chorus makes me think of when Wu members would take a shot at singing…
4. “La Rhumba” by Bobby Digital. I’ll spare you a Ghost / R&B throwback and we’ll keep the Cuban influence for a moment longer.
5. “Campfire” by Amine. A Dolemite sample? I’m in. Coming off of Bobby Digi requires something non-conventional which is what Amine brings.
6. “Kevin’s Heart” by J. Cole. This is some intense emo / infidelity / confessional stuff. He’s consistently lyrically and musically interesting.
7. “A$AP forever (feat. Moby) by A$AP Rocky. Moby?! Sure, glad to know he’s still out there. A$AP rhythmically takes us from the vogue modern rap / rhythm style and plants is in NYCs dance roots with this feature.
8. “Top of the World” by Kimbra. How about dance meets hip-hop with some great synth sounds? Building on Moby’s influence is all I’m saying, plus she’s the better half of Gotye…
9. “Sea Lion” by Sage Francis. I couldn’t tease emo-rap and not sneak somebody from the heartfelt backpacker day’s of the early 2000s onto this. It feels dated, but I think when I hear new stuff from Logic and the like, it’s good to know where the derivation stems from (even if I don’t know if they know that. PS, not a Logic fan, he feels derivative without being progressive to me – who can relate?)
10. “What the Writer Meant” by Hop Along. The drum break, the two-hand tapping / arpeggiator sounding guitar in the chorus, there is some serious dance influence in what otherwise is a pop-rock song. Add the melody and the lyrics? I’m in on this band.
11. “Six Wave Hold-down” by Hot Snakes. Pros keep working. How can I have albums from almost of their previous acts and only just be finding them?
12. “Doom and Gloom” by Dark Times. Where would they be, no, where would we all be without SubPop?
13. “400 Bucks” by the Reverend Horton Heat. And thus begins the turn towards country, via SubPop signed the king psychobilly genius himself.
14. “Life of Sin” by Sturgill Simpson. I needed something this tempo to start the slow down with. Sturgill harnesses the alt-country vibe that Nashville shunned but grew up on the outlaw country sound. This is a theme.
15. “Welfare Music” by the Bottlerockets. This is alt-country before it had a label. They were and remain true innovators and disrupters.
16. “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” by Ashley McBryde. The best outsider-invited-in story of recent memory. Let’s hope she keeps some of the “you rejected me” roots (which I’m sure she will), because this is a nice turn for modern country. The whole bro-scene is exhausted and was lame to begin with. Plus, she’s funny (listen to “Fat and Famous”).
17. “Whiskey Bottle (live acoustic version)” by Uncle Tupelo. This is what it sounds like to not be Nashville-clean, playing originals in dive bars in the American South while the Rick Rubin produced Johnny Cash albums were just starting to help cultivate a new era of attention.
18. “If we were Vampires” by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. And from the fringe where the Drive By Truckers emerged from, we get stuff like this. This is stoic philosophy, on a country album, that sounds uniquely progressive. Sturgill is doing it too, but this camp needs to keep expanding because it’s so good.
19. “The Deconstruction” by Eels. The door was open to return towards pop-rock. E’s philosophy is existential, and the turns in his life are fuel for his musical explorations. If you don’t know the Eels back catalogue, always look for what happened to him personally before he recorded it – it is enlightening and gives everything more depth. On this one, he recently had his first child and got divorced (and he’s a little over 50 now).
20. “You Worry Me” by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. To nearly bring this full circle, here’s some progressive R&B. I really like this guy, and it’s not just did the B3 and horns. He is not just rehashing Otis, he’s giving it a modern spin.
21. “Forever Dream Girl” by Kyle Craft. Dylan, Meatloaf, and a slew of others are buried here. Like jazz went to Cuba and folk went to the American south, classic radio rock with all of its own glory can get the modern treatment too. Say what you may about him, Craft’s got some lyrics.