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5 Songs We Can't Stop Listening To (with guest Strand of Oaks)

As I was talking to Strand of Oaks’ lead singer, Tim Showalter, when he was in our studio last Monday, I had to stop him in the middle of a sentence to give him a high five. He was talking about the new Sharon Van Etten record and the new National album and he said, “the thing is, artists are making what will come to be classic albums right now, but we just don’t know it yet.” This is the kind of idea that Radio Milwaukee, as well as 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening to is founded on. Each week we pick 5 songs that have the potential to be that classic album. These are 5 songs that will stand the test of time with us, and hopefully, with you.


Strand of Oaks pick: The National- “This is the Last Time”

Strand of Oaks lead singer, Tim Showalter looks like he might already be the leader of an illicit sect of a fringe outlaw motorcycle gang. Let’s go to the checklist: Long black hair: Check. Massive Beard: Check. More Tattoo than actual skin visible: Check. Leather: Check. In a killer rock ‘n’ roll band: Check. But, curiously enough, he was a second grade teacher at a Jewish grade school before becoming a professional musician, and he was one of the warmest musicians I have ever met. He was genuinely excited to be playing, exited to be in Milwaukee, and excited to talk about music. He chose The National’s “This is the Last Time.” Hear the energy and passion in his voice in the SoundCloud link above.

The National’s album, Trouble Will Find Me, was released in 2013.

Listen if you like: Strand of Oaks, low baritones, orchestrally arranged songs.


The Sounds of Time- “Don't Fall Off”

Before I started working on this song I asked Kid Millions if this project was Kid Millions, Kid Millions and the Sounds of Time, or just The Sounds Of Time, and he responded, “We are The Sounds of Time!” And after listening to this song I understand why. This isn’t a hip-hop track that loops a break beat and serves as a platform for a rappers bars, This is a beautiful work of balanced production. It takes little pieces of musical aesthetic this sunset organ, subtle horns, finger snaps, laser synths, and a vocal 3 part harmony on a hip hop track and it wears them like a three piece suit. All of the subtleties accenting the other to give it style, and Kid Millions flow, smooth and rhythmic doesn’t lay on top of the track, rather within it. He is telling us not to Fall Off with the group, and with a song like this, there is no way that we are going to forget about The Sounds of Time.

The Sounds of Time single “Don't Fall Off” will be available on iTunes this Tuesday, September 26.

Listen if you like: Phenomenal production, incredible flow, Milwaukee.



Leonard Cohen- “Almost Like the Blues”

Leonard Cohen has been music’s old sage since he released his first album at 33 years old, his new album, Popular Problems, will be released on his 80 th birthday, making him the old sage that he has always been. On that first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, His voice was soft and sad, hardly above a whisper, while he picked classical guitar like an angel does a harp. And while the subject matter has not changed, sadness, religion, love, and music, he drops his harp completely, in favor of a dark bass, and lets his voice show its age, a weathered patina of gravel and growl.

And what has he learned? What knowledge does he have to embark? Death, darkness, murderous thoughts, sin, religion, and a meta commentary on music. It’s a dark song, it’s almost like the blues.

Leonard Cohen’s new album, Popular Problems, will be available September 23.

Listen if you like: Tom Waits, darkness, Scott Walker (Musician).



Forever Lesbians- “Pennsylvania Black Coffee”

In the first few lines of this song the lead singer says,  “I don’t want you to be hurt by the things that I say when I get honest.” Troubles with honesty is why so many relationships have many problems. Pamela Meyer, a professional lie spotter says, “Truth number one about lying is that lying is a cooperative act.”  Each of us participates, wanting the lie to be true. But, it’s a still a lie. And lying creates distrust, and that’s more detrimental than the original lie. Ultimately it’s not honesty that hurts, its dishonesty. And this song is the singer looking back, wishing that they were a little more honest with each other.

This song is available on Forever Lesbians Bandcamp page.

Listen if you like: Lament, songs that sound like they were recorded in a toaster, musical androgyny.



Ty Segall- “Tall Man, Skinny Lady”

Ty Segall is a workhorse. At 27 years old he has released a frightening amount of music. 7 solo albums, 11 “other” albums, including cassette releases, singles comps and releases under the Ty Segall band, and 19 albums with “side projects” like Epsilons, Party Fowl, Traditional Fools, Sic Alps, and most recently, Fuzz. Totaling a mind blowing 37 albums. Did I mention he is just 27 years old? Ty Segall doesn’t work when he is inspired, he works until he is inspired. And because of his gym rat attitude in the recording studio he has reached Gladwell’s mythical 10,000hours needed for success. It has acted as a fast forward button for artistic growth. In previous side projects Segall has had a one track mind for either garage rock, lo-fi, pshych or fuzz, but here he mixes elements of all his previous albums and then some, proving that he is the manipulator that he says he is. Here is to hoping he makes 37 more.

Ty Segall’s new album, Manipulator, is my ALBUM OF THE WEEK. It’s out this Tuesday. I already talked to Dan at Rush Mor Records, and he has got it in stock. Double LP, gatefold, 180 gram, all the good stuff.

Listen if you like: Thee Oh Sees, lo-fi, at times the late Beatles.