5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening to is a collection of our newest favorite songs. And Every week we ask an artist that we love to tell us about the music they love.
Listen to the whole thing in the player below.
1. Hippo Campus picks “Shark Smile” by Big Thief
Every week we ask one artist that we love to tell us about a song. The band Hippo Campus is from St. Paul, MN. We love this band. We’ve played their song “Suicide Saturday,” “Sophie So,” and right now we’re playing the song “Way It Goes.” I’m here with Jake Luppen, lead singer of Hippo Campus.
Justin Barney: Jake, what is one song you can’t stop listening to? What’s your jam? What are you feelin’?
Jake Luppen: There is this album that Big Thief put out called “Capacity” and I’ve really been digging “Shark Smile” from that.
Justin Barney: Yes! Let’s talk about that.
Jake Luppen: Honestly the whole record is incredible.
Justin Barney: It really is. What does Big Thief do for you?
Jake Luppen: Well, I think it’s just great song writing. Adrianna who writes all the songs is just mind-blowing. The way she writes lyrics is really cool. She’ll write lyrics as poetry first and then she’ll draw meaning from that. That’s inspiring. It’s kind of the same way we’ve always done things too. The words come and then you can find meaning within them.
Justin Barney: Yeah. What do you like about “Shark Smile?”
Jake Luppen: It’s so catchy. But at the same time it’s totally fresh. It’s a really old sounding song. It’s a song that sounds like it’s been around forever. It’s completely timeless.
Justin Barney: Yeah, sometimes it’s like, “How do you make this sound new?”
Jake Luppen: Yeah.
- “Shark Smile” was released this year on Big Thief’s album, “Capacity.”
- Listen if you like: Fleet Foxes, Bright Eyes, Hippo Campus
2. Jean-Jacques Perrey – “L’âme des Poètes”
In the early 1940’s Frenchman George Jenny invented an instrument. A keyboard, suspended in the air to give it a natural vibrato, it had 15 switches and filters that, if the player used the right techniques, could imitate a violin, an oboe, bagpipes, castanets, bongos, and even, a cat. The instrument was the Ondioline.
One of the world’s first synthesizers. It was instrument that would change music as we know it.
A couple years after the Ondioline was invented, Jean-Jacques Perry, a young student studying medicine in Paris met Jenny. So captured by the instrument, Perry drops out of medical school to learn the instrument. By thirty he is living in New York and working in an experimental laboratory and recording studio. He befriends other pioneers like Robert Moog. Here he went onto make music that lived in obscurity, but would be sampled by Dr. Dre, used in a Simpson’s couch gag, and the band The Beastie Boys would even release an entire instrumental album as tribute to Perry’s music.
Last week, an album of unreleased and rarely heard recordings of Jean-Jacques Perry’s was released on the French label Forgotten Futures.
This is one of my favorites, “L’âme des Poètes” it’s the first song featuring the ondioline to become a hit. Hear Perry playing the ondioline, mimicking, and quite convincingly I must say, the sound of a violin.
- “L’âme des Poètes” was originally written in 1951, and was just released on the album, “Jean-Jacques Perrey et son Ondioline.”
- Listen if you like: old French music, proto-synthesizers, music history
3. The National – “Guilty Party”
A couple weekends ago I went to New York to see The National play their upcoming album, “Sleep Well Beast” in it’s totality for the first time.
I was pretty cool.
They played it in Hudson, NY right on the Hudson River, in an old Basilica that they had renovated so that the stage was in the middle of the church. A theater in the round. You couldn’t be anywhere inside without being ten feet from the stage. It was beautiful.
The new album is a little different from some of the previous National albums. Whereas, “Trouble Will Find Me” and “Boxer” play well over time, getting better, and growing deeper with every listen of lead singer Matt Burninger’s baritone humming into your soul, “Sleep Well Beast” is more visceral. There is more instant gratification. There was a new song that they played where Burninger yelled into the mic the whole time, like a 17 year old in his first punk band. Let me tell you, it was awesome and it brought down the house.
I think that it’s just that the new album is more balanced between song that come at you fast and ones that burn slow, because after leaving I have found myself returning again and again to this song, “Guilty Party.”
The key to this song, and I think the secret to all the National’s music is the drums. Listen to Bryan Devendorf’s drumming. It’s totally separated from everything that’s going on in the song. He’s on his own rhythm. With Burninger’s voice moving so slow, and his drums moving everywhere, it keeps the song unpredictable and makes you want to listen again and again and again.
- “Guilty Party” will appear on The National’s new album, “Sleep Well Beast” out September 8th via 4AD.
- Listen if you like: truly interesting drum patterns, classic The National, being sad
4. Chronixx – “Big Bad Sound (feat. Chronicle)”
Justin Barney: This is 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To and I’m here with afternoon host Marcus Doucette. We had our music meeting on Monday and Marcus was speaking more passionately about this album than I have heard anyone talk about an album in a long time. Could you fill us in on what that album was Marcus?
Marcus Doucette: I’m talking about the new album by Chronixx, called “Chronology.” It just came out this July. And I remember I was talking with Ziggy Marley. I got a chance to talk with him and I was asking him if there were any other artists on the scene that he was kind of digging and one name came up that caught my ear, and that was Chronixx.
I feel like the world has been waiting for the next big Jamaican super star and I honestly feel like this is the cat.
This new album is full of so much for people to latch onto and vibe. Not only will you find reggae, you’ll find dancehall, you’ll even find him working EDM on a really low-key level. There is R&B, there is lover’s rock. There are all these things coming together in a very natural way.
This guy he’s got this capability to acknowledge all the past masters in reggae, but also push the envelope and take reggae to its next natural evolution.
It’s a truly amazing album. This song is “Big Bad Sound” it’s a song he did with his father, old school reggae artist, Chronicle.
- Chrinixx new album, “Chronology” is out now.
- Listen if you like: The natural evolution of reggae, Ziggy Marley, Sound Travels
5. Lee Ranaldo picks “Keep Your Name” by Dirty Projectors
Lee Ranaldo is a solo artist in his own right. You might know him as co-founding member of the band Sonic Youth. He is going to have a new solo album out on September 15th called “Electric Trim.” He has a new song called, “New Thing.” My guest is Lee Ranaldo.
Justin Barney: Lee Ranaldo, what’s one song that you can’t stop listening to?
Lee Ranaldo: In the last couple months, I’ve been kind of enraptured by this album that just got put out recently by the band Dirty Projectors.
Justin Barney: Oh yeah!
Lee Ranaldo: I just really couldn’t stop listening to it both because I was fascinated by how they put it together in terms of the technique and also because I thought that David Longstreth’s singing was really great on the song and on the whole record.
Justin Barney: Was there one technique where you were like, “What is that?”
Lee Ranaldo: Well I guess it was the fact that they were slowing down the voice and building the melody around a slowed down voice, especially at the very beginning. It has a really interesting atmosphere to it. It’s very empty and it’s very evocative in a certain way and it just works so well. I really thought it was very striking.
- “Keep Your Name” was released this year on Dirty Projectors self-titled album.
- Listen if you like: blips and bloops, interesting studio production, vocal distortion