This week was a real winner. We have had the advance copy of the Kiings album for a couple weeks and we have been bursting at the seams to show it to you. Now we finally can. The Dan Deacon album had us dancing our weirdest moves in office chairs, passenger seats, and on the floors of our houses, and the new Bob Dylan continues the folk narrative for another generation. AND, Asgeir dropped by the studio to give us a song that he can’t stop listening to. We hope you love this one.
Hear all 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To. (If you get your podcasts on Stitcher, add Milwaukee Stories and you will get 5 Songs beamed into your phone every Monday.)
1. Kiings (featuring bliss & alice, King Courteen, and WebsterX) – “1984”
I say we do away with the term “independent artist.” The independent artist promotes an idea that an artist must depend on no one. That they must do it alone. That they must create alone. That they are alone. The “independent artist” promotes the idea that success is finite. That only a limited amount of people can have success. And in order to have success, you must not depend on others. The definition of an “independent artist” does not leave room for collaboration, cooperation, good will and support. The definition of an “independent artist” needs to be re-written.
And it’s already begun. Kiings, bliss and alice, King Courteen, and WebsterX are rewriting it. They are casting away their independence in favor of a greater good. They are saying that if we all support each other we can all succeed. We are dependent on each other and we are all in this together.
Right now, an independent producer duo, two independent rappers, and an independent singer/songwriter, all from Milwaukee, are breaking down the barriers of genre and discipline, and re-writing the definition of an “independent artist.”
- Kiings new album, WWYDF, is out now.
- Listen if you like: Supporting others, Milwaukee music, Rhythmn Lab
2. Asgeir picks Tallest Man On Earth – “Love Is All”
Asgeir first released his album in his native Icelandic. Then it became so popular that he had to record it again, the second time in English. He speaks three languages, the third being Dutch. His back up guitarist speaks four, and his drummer speaks three as well. I find that explaining music in the only language I know is pretty tough, I could imagine doing it in a second, or third language, but Asgeir did a wonderful job doing just that. Listen to his introduction, and the song he picked below.
- The Tallest Man On Earth’s album, The Wild Hunt, was released in 2010.
- Listen if you like: finger picking guitar, nasally vocals, Bob Dylan
3. Tom Brosseau – “Hard Luck Boy”
“Well it’s story time again.” Yes, it is story time again. The story song. My favorite kind of song. It doesn’t even really have to be a “song” necessarily, if you just play music in the background as you talk, we could call it a song. This can be a song.
Ira Glass said, “Good stories happen to those who can tell them.” And he’s absolutely right. Storytelling is something that we all do, but it’s also a craft. Storytelling is about looking at something ordinary, like going to the mall with your mom, and being able to pick out what’s important and what’s not. Who are the characters? What rolls do they play? What’s the point of this story? And how do you get there? And then it’s the telling. You must have cadence and rhythmn. You’ve got to set a tone, and let your voice say just as much as the words do. You’ve got to build momentum, or slow it down. And ultimately come to a conclusion. It’s a skill. And Tom Brosseau’s got it.
- Tom Brosseau’s new album, Perfect Abandon, will be available this Tuesday (March 3rd.)
- Listen if you like: Stories, Lyle Lovett, Townes Van Zandt
4. Dan Deacon – “Feel the Lighting”
Dan Deacon makes songs that are incomplete. Its not that they are unfinished or anything, Dan Deacon makes these soundscapes that are created for you to enter. For you to live in, create, and interact with. Your participation with the song is the missing piece. Your interaction actually changes the way you hear the song.
This is Dan Deacon’s philosophy. At his shows he is not playing to you, he is playing with you. He’ll have big dance circles and play games, the only condition is that you have to participate. You have to let go.
So I’m going to encourage you participate with this song. For just 5 seconds at any point in this song, participate with it. Whatever that means to you. It can be as little as tapping your toe. No one will notice, I promise. You can always say no, but you are the missing piece to this song. Participate with it. Have fun with it. It will totally change they way you hear the song. For just 5 seconds, say yes. You’ll be glad you did.
- Dan Deacon’s new album, Gliss Riffer, is out now.
- Listen if you like: soundscapes, interacting with music, knob twisters.
5. Bob Dylan – “Why Try To Change Me Now”
Bob Dylan was everything that Frank Sinatra was not. Sinatra sang standards in a pressed tuxedo, with a grin on his face, and a twinkle in those famous blue eyes. His voice strong and clear. He was flawless. It was Sinatra’s culture that Bob Dylan was countering. With his thin and strained voice, his music targeted the imperfections of Sinatra’s America.
And succeeded. As Dylan and others took over the existing culture, standards singers were replaced by the singer/songwriter. Dylan has become the standard. Over the years Sinatra’s music has become its own kind of American folk music, representing a time gone by.
As a twisted irony it makes perfect sense that Dylan would carry on the folk narrative, embrace Sinatra, and release an album of his covers. The songs are frail, there understated, and they are flawed. In these songs Bob Dylan is Frank Sinatra, but he is also everything that Sinatra was not.
- Bob Dylan’s new album, Shadows In The Night, is available now.
- Listen if you like: irony, the folk narrative, American music