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5 Songs We Can't Stop Listening To: SXSW discoveries and guest The Decemberists

5 Songs We Can't Stop Listening to is a collection of our newest favorite songs. Every week we ask an artist that we love to tell us about the music they love.

Listen to the whole segment and all the songs below.

5 Songs We Can't Stop Listening To: SXSW discoveries and guest The Decemberists

1. The Decemberists pick “Emotional Motion Sickness” By Phoebe Bridgers

The Decemberists are our guest this week on 5 Songs. They are one of my favorite bands of all time. But aside from my personal fandom, they formed in 2000, they have released eight full length albums, the most recent being, “I’ll Be Your Girl.” They are coming to Milwaukee, playing at the Riverside Theater on April 8th. This is just part of a larger conversation that I had with Colin Meloy.

Our guest is Colin Meloy, lead singer of The Decemberists.

Justin Barney: What is one song you can’t stop listening to right now?

Colin Meloy: There is this Phoebe Bridgers song. The video is just her riding a skateboard, it’s called “Emotional Motion Sickness.” That’s a great song.

Justin Barney: And what do you like about that song?

Colin Meloy: I think she’s got really good pop sensibilities. I think the phrasing, the lyric, and the melody is really infectious. And I always dig that when people do that.


  • “Emotional Motion Sickness” was released last year on Phoebe Bridgers debut album, “Stranger in the Alps.”
  • Listen if you like: Margaret Glaspy, Anna Burch, great lyrics
  • Full interview

2. Josh T. Pearson – “Straight to the Top”

A lot of the songs I pick this week are going to be stuff I saw in Austin, Texas at South by Southwest. This was one of my favorite discoveries at South By, Josh T Pearson.

A lot of the action was happening in the city, but for Josh we took a car out to east Austin which looks a lot more like the romantic Texas. It’s dusty, it’s sparse, and there were literal tumbleweeds going across the street when we entered this little dive bar called The Thirteenth Floor. It could maybe fit twenty people max, and we were sitting outside in the back.

Josh T Pearson came walking up to us, I was with my friend from his record label, Mute. She asked him how he was doing and he said: “Man, on Wednesday we got ‘South by-ed’ hard and we didn’t sleep ‘til Friday night.” He was playing on Saturday.

He’s a good ol' Austin boy, he was in this band called Lift to Experience that released this album "The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads" in 2001, so he’s a bit of an Austin legend. He set up between the bar and the door, he’s just one guy standing there, clean white cowboy hat, in this Austin accent, singing these old sad songs. He played this one song, “I’m so Miserable, it’s as if You’ve Never Left”.

In the middle, he played this song, “Straight to the Top.” His new album is coming out, it’s called “The Straight Hits.” Every single song on the album includes the word ‘straight’. He introduced every song by saying “this is a smash hit from the upcoming album,” so it’s kind of funny, it’s truly Texas. And, there was something very romantic in my mind about seeing this tall guy, clean cowboy hat, playing with a guitar, in this old dive bar in Austin.

I love this song, one of my favorite discoveries from South by Southwest. Josh T Pearson, with “Straight to the Top.”


  • “Straight to the Top” will be on Josh T. Pearson’s new album, “The Straight Hits!” out April 13th.
  • Listen if you like: outlaw stuff, good ole Texas boys, loud fast rock with a sense of humor

3. Stella Donnelly – “Boys Will Be Boys”

When I was at South By South West, we went to this club, The Barracuda. It is the most in demand spot there. There’s people lined up for blocks. In the middle there’s somebody playing inside and there’s somebody playing outside. It’s always loud. There’s a lot going on and I walked up to see Stella Donnelly. She was in the middle of playing this song. She not only silenced a crowd, she silenced the city. You could hear a pin drop in this show.

I was watching it and I could not help but just say, “Wow,” as it was going on. It was incredible. It was moving. This song itself is incredibly emotional. She even said when she got to the end of it, “That’s the 13th time that I’ve had to perform this at South By, and it has not gotten any easier.” I believe it, but I thank her and appreciate her for doing it.


  • “Boys Will Be Boys” was released last year on Stella Donnelly’s “Thrush Metal – EP.”
  • Listen if you like: really really powerful lyrics, Julie London guitar, a crowd silencer

Cody Gaisser  - “Wish There Was A Way”

Every year, we have this event called Sound Bites at the Iron Horse Hotel. Restaurants all around town are paired up with DJs from here at 88.9. They pair a dish with a song. There is also an auction, which Bridget Flynn won and is our guest today for our 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To segment.

Justin Barney: Bridget, what is one song that you can’t stop listening to?

Bridget Flynn: I had to find something that, 1, I didn’t think you would know, 2 would…

Justin Barney: Not a prerequisite, but okay.

Bridget Flynn: I wanted it to be sort of a sad song, so my pick is Cody Gaisser, “Wish There Was A Way.”

Justin Barney: Okay, so I don’t know it. Good. We’re on the right track. Tell me more about it.

Bridget Flynn: So I met Cody probably 15 years ago, and he’s a singer/songwriter out of Florence, Alabama. It’s fun, but it’s a little sad.

Justin Barney: Do you remember hearing it for the first time?

Bridget Flynn: I do. He used to come in and do open-mic nights at the place I worked. The first time I met him, he was just this little 16 year-old guy. He pulled out a guitar and no one really thought anything of it, and he opened his mouth and I was like “Oh my God! My life is changed.” He’s got this crazy voice that I just love.

  • “Wish There Was A Way” was released in 2002 on Gaisser’s “Good As Velvet” EP.
  • Listen if you like: Kyle Craft, Van Morrison, gritty vocals and guitar
  • Get tickets to Sound Bites here.

4. Dr. Octagon – “Area 54”

Justin Barney: I'm here with my boss and our program director, Jordan Lee. Last week we went to SXSW.

Justin Barney: What did you see that you loved there and one song from that artist?

Jordan: Okay. One artist I accidentally got to see that blew my mind away: Dr. Octagon. Are you familiar with Dr. Octagon?

Justin Barney: I've heard the name, but I can't tell you a song.

Jordan Lee: Okay, so while backstage at Stub's when we were seeing Tank and the Bangas, I ran into Dan the Automator's manager. He's like, "Dan's here for South By for a Dr. Octagon performance." I was like, "What?" Because Dr. Octagon is producer Dan the Automator- from Handsome Boy Modeling School, etc. etc. Etc.; Gorillaz, you might know him from working with them- Kool Keith, and Qbert. Qbert is the Dalai Lama of turntablism.

Justin Barney: And you love some turntablism.

Jordan Lee: Are you kidding me? Qbert and I actually have a common denominator through Gabriel Prokofiev, who wrote the Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra, which I've had the pleasure of performing seven times, so for me to be able to see Qbert... I lost my mind. So they're back!

Justin Barney: Where were you?

Jordan Lee: I really don't know. I confidently walked with our friend Jessica and Jay Bird from Rhymesayers Records and I followed them somewhere across the freeway. I don't know where we were, but I know we were there and I know I was there with Karriem Riggins and I was losing my dang mind.

Justin Barney: What was the show like?

Jordan Lee: It was incredible. So Dr. Octagon, I mean, you have to realize that Dan the Automator is an amazing beatsmith, but Kool Keith is probably equally as powerful on the mic as Qbert is on the cut. There would be songs where Qbert was scratching for 2 minutes straight, and I was loving every second of it, man!

Justin Barney: Hit us with a song.

Jordan Lee: The new song is "Area 54." This is the only song we've heard so far from this forthcoming album that's coming out. You're going to love the title of this album, Justin.

Justin Barney: Alright. Hit me up.

Jordan Lee: "Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation." I didn't know what horripilation meant.

Justin Barney: I don't know what that means.

Jordan Lee: Technically, it's when your skin erects.

Justin Barney: When you get goosebumps?

Jordan Lee: Goosebumps, right, but this is called "Moosbumps."


  • Dr. Octagon’s new album, “Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation” will be out on April 6th.
  • Listen if you like: Dan the Auomator, Kool Keith, scratching

5. Sex Park – “Dignity”

Despite the bands unfortunate band name, Sex Park makes some pretty good music. The genre, surely up for debate, I’m gonna say is post-punk. Punctuated by dark synthesizers, a pedal heavy guitar that never really stops, and a vocal that sounds like it was recorded from the other side of the room that fits just under everything in the mix. Post-punk, kind of started by bands like Wire and perfected by Joy Division, continues here in 2018 with multitudes of subgenres that each give the genre something different.

“Dignity’s” synths are thick, and the drums are propulsive. Like the best in it’s genre, it gets your head to turn off everything that’s around you and live in the song.


  • Sex Park’s new album, “Atrium” is available now on bandcamp.
  • Listen if you like: Joy Division, shoegaze, post-punk

5. U.S. Girls – “Pearly Gates”

I kind of love when a band looks like a band and U.S. Girls was certainly that band at South By. Their sax player came out in a black turtle neck, black beret, sunglasses. Their keyboardist was wearing a silk smoking jacket. Their bass player was wearing a bucket hat and overalls. Each one had their own distinct and unique individual style. I love that.

Then there’s Meg Remy, the lead singer. Despite the band being called U.S. Girls, Remy resides in Canada currently. She’s like this singer-songwriter that went through this real and intense hip hop and funk period then came out with this record. It’s full of grooves and hooks that are straight up hip-hop. She’s got the attitude and swagger to boot, with the lyrics that cut straight through. This song is dangerously cool.


  • U.S. Girls’ new album, “In a Poem Unlimited” is out now.
  • Listen if you like: singer songwriters inspired by hip-hop and funk, grooves, great lyrics

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