There has been such an incredible amount of outstanding music released recently. Some of it from old favorites like Modest Mouse. Some from artists that are soon to become old favorites like Father John Misty, and some from artists that I have a sneaking suspicion will become an old favorite like Courtney Barnett. Then there is Jeff Bridges. I heard this album for the first time last Friday and I’ve listened to it a dozen times since then. I am in love. Please, fall in love with these songs, the 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To.
1. Cold War Kids Pick Bob Dylan “Sign on the Window”
Each week I ask an artist to pick a song that they love for 5 Songs, Nathan Willett, the lead singer for the Cold War Kids picked, “Sign on the Window” by Bob Dylan.
“Sign on the Window by Bob Dylan. That’s my choice.” Willett stated with confidence. “… is that really what I want to pick?” he backtracked. Willett wanted to be sure that his song was perfect. We talked about Tom Waits and The Clash briefly, but then Willett gained confidence in his choice, and you can hear just how much he loves it. He played it as we talked and at times he just closed his eyes and sang along. Listen to the full intro and song below.
- Bob Dylan’s New Morning was released in 1970 on Columbia Records.
- Listen if you like: Bob Dylan, piano balladeering, the Midwest.
2. Modest Mouse- “The Best Room”
One complaint about current music that I’ll hear or see people say is something along the lines of: “What music are we going to remember from this era? What are people going to remember Katy Parry and Justin Beiber?” It’s usually stated with some bitterness, but I just think “No, they are not.” Beiber and Perry’s musical merit will not be remembered. Just look at the hundreds of pop acts, and boy bands before them that have been completely forgotten by history.
The bands that will be remembered are groups that left us with a catalogue of consistently unique and great music. Modest Mouse will be one of the bands that we look back on in years to come, and say, “That was a great band.”
This song is an example of Modest Mouse at its best. It’s off-kilter and ambling as if on one foot, spinning around the room, lost in space. Lead singer Isaac Brock just kind of yells the lyrics, unconcerned with tempo or range, but then, as the best Modest Mouse songs do, the song finds itself somewhere in there, and brings a moment of clarity to the mania.
- Modest Mouse’s album, Stranger To Ourselves, will be out on March 17 on Sony.
- Listen if you like: classic Modest Mouse, off-kilter drifts, great guitar tones
3. Courtney Barnett- “Pedestrian At Best”
Things that we know about Courtney Barnett from listening to this one song: She has a complicated and full personality. She doesn’t like expectations. She’s a little self conscious. She’s conflicted about a relationship, among other things. She’ll pick at your weaknesses. But shes trying to be a good person. She wants to figure herself out. She’s empathetic. She’s a Scorpio. She’s Australian. She’s analytical. She’s smart. She rocks.
- Courtney Barnett’s album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, will be out March 24, on Mom + Pop Music.
- Listen if you like: sing-talking, rambles, rocking guitar.
4. Father John Misty- “I Love You, Honeybear”
Father John Misty just gets it. He gets that we are attracted to music, but we want more than music, we want spectacle. A performer. A person with charisma and charm and a well defined personality. We want a character. At least I do. They’re just more interesting. Every character trait is exaggerated and finely tuned, interesting, larger than life.
Father John Misty is the larger than life character that Josh Tillman has become. The character’s traits are apathy, sarcasm, and irreverence, and complete honesty. Recently he played an in-house show to “his corporate overlords” at Spotify, where he put all the audio tracks from his album on a personal karaoke machine and sarcastically sang his songs as he just kind of aimlessly walked around the room, just not caring.
He is aware of his own honesty and that it might make others uncomfortable, so he jokes about it. It allows him to take himself seriously, but not take himself seriously at all. He creates mystery in the modern age. Father John Misty is a satire of the music industry. Father John Misty is a satire of musicians. Father John Misty is a satire of himself. Father John Misty is genius. Father John Misty is truth.
- Father John Misty’s new album, I Love You, Honeybear, is out this Tuesday (February 10) on Sup Pop Records.
- Listen if you like: meta modernism, satire, brilliance.
5. Jeff Bridges- “Feeling Good”
My favorite records are the weird ones. The ones that had no right to be made, no market, no audience, no chance. I love ‘em, and I’ve got ‘em. How To Be a CB Radio Operator, The Salvation Army’s pressing of the Songs and Stories of Skid Row, an entire hour of spontaneous in-cab-recordings of a New York Taxi Driver in 1959, a double LP simply called Listening and Concentration.
So my attention was peaked when I was watching the Super Bowl and I saw Jeff Bridges swirling a Tibetan prayer bowl and humming next to someone’s bed, promoting a website and an album called Dreaming With Jeff. I knew I had to have it.
And dreaming with Jeff paid off. Its part Ken Nordine, part Listening and Concentration, and part Tom Waits. It’s a weird, and it’s wonderful. I love it.
- Jeff Bridges new album, Sleeping Tapes, is out now.
- Listen if you like: positive affirmations, spoken word albums, weird stuff