This week we were blessed with fantastic music. I honestly think that Father John Misty’s new song, “Bored in the U.S.A.” is in my top 5 favorite songs of the year. I listened to the new Run The Jewels album 10 times last week and found myself riding my bicycle as fast as I can, just yelling out loud while listening. It has that much energy. Angel Olsen broke my heart in the sweetest way, and Honne quite literally kept me warm on some cold nights last week. This batch is a keeper. Listen to the whole thing.
Run the Jewels- “Early” (feat. Boots)
It seems that music critics across the board have come to a unanimous consensus that the new Run The Jewels album is one of, or possibly, the best album of the year. Pitchfork gave it a 9.0. Consequence of Sound: A- Stereogum said “there’s a very good chance that RTJ2 is the best album anyone will release in 2014, in any genre.”
For me, this raises two flags. The first flag is a reaction that says, “I should listen to this immediately.” The second flag is one of skepticism. When too many people agree on something as subjective as taste, it starts to freak me out, and I feel like I should question it.
And I think that my skeptic flag was warranted. Run the Jewels 2 is big chested, confrontational, and aggressive. And El-P and Killer Mike spend SO MUCH time on this album ripping on haters, that I think that critics don’t want to self-identify as one of these haters and therefore a direct target of Run The Jewel’s aggression. And, at times, this albums language uses misogyny, hate, and racial, sexual, and homophobic slurs. Which, I simply can not condone. So I can’t say that it will be an album of the year for me.
But, I do think that this album is very good, and worth talking about and listening to.
This song in particular. It’s a level headed critique of low level drug charges and law enforcement, while showing a strong value for his family and love for his wife and kids. Production wise, this song is immaculate. It has a hook that certainly rivals some of the best hooks of the year. So, have your own opinion on Run the Jewels new album, Run the Jewels 2.
- Run The Jewels new album, Run The Jewels 2, is available now.
- Listen if you like: Hip-Hop, energy and flow, amazing lyrics, a fantastic hook
Father John Misty- “Bored in the U.S.A.”
Father John Misty is really the musician Josh Tillman playing the persona of Father John Misty, who is a musician that writes and sings about Josh Tillman.
So, essentially, Tilman has created two degrees of separation between the person playing the music and the person in the song. And that is why Father John Misty works.
By creating layers of separation it allows Tillman to get far enough outside of his own reality that he can be truly honest with himself. The separation allows him to look down at himself from the perspective of an outsider. And say things that would be very hard to admit otherwise.
This song epitomizes that honesty. In the first half of the song he lays truth after devastating truth. He sings, “I grow more disappointing to you as my beauty warps and fades. I suspect you feel the same.”
And, like many of us, it is easier to say something so honest and hurtful if we say it in a joking way, to kind of soften the blow, or show that we don’t care. So he spends the second half of the song joking around. He even adds in canned laughter, which has a funny effect, but is also really sad in its own way.
As a whole, this song shows a great understanding of the human condition. And it comes from a fictional character.
- Father John Misty’s new album, I Love You, Honeybear, will be out in February 2015.
- Listen if you like: Post-Modernism, piano ballads, social analysis.
The Apache Relay picks Timber Timbre- “Hot Dreams”
This week, my guest host is Michael, the front man of The Apache Relay. At the time of our conversation I was riding high on my excitement over the new Father John Misty song and would not shut up about it. Luckily, Michael shared my love and told me about an amazing interview that Father John Misty did with Marc Maron on Maron’s podcast WTF. Michael was excited about Father John Misty, the new Spoon album, and this song by Timber Timbre. Listen to his entire introduction to the song in the SoundCloud link below.
- Timber Timbre’s new album, Hot Dreams, is available now.
- Listen if you like: beautiful baritone voices, slow dance music, sultry love songs.
Honne- “Warm On A Cold Night”
As a DJ, unsurprisingly, I love songs that start with a fake radio DJ. Because the fictionalized version of anything is always more romantic than its reality. And because it shows you the job of the DJ, which is to tell you why you are hearing the song you are about to hear, and what that song does to you. To set the context and the mood. In this song, having the DJ puts the song in motion. Even if you’re sitting stationary at a desk it places you in a car that’s cruising down the street at 3AM on a cold cold night. That’s the context. And as for the mood, well, I’ll leave that up to our main man, Tommy Ingelthorp.
- Honne’s debut EP is available now. No word on a full length yet.
- Listen if you like: DJ intros, smooth jamz, Chet Faker.
Angel Olsen- “May As Well”
My favorite songs are ones that are lonesome, longing, and regretful. Most of the time those feelings come across through the lyrics, but some singers can get this feeling across from hanging on a single note. And there is a name for this, its called a cry break. It became the trademark of Hank Williams and that old country sound. The cry break is when a singer will start a note, and just won’t be able to finish it, and start it again. You’ll know it when you hear it. It’s that falter in their voice that sounds like heartbreak. That whole messy feeling, in a single note. And it gets me every time.
- Angel Olsen’s album, Burn Your Fire For No Witness, is available now. This song will be a bonus on the album’s Deluxe Edition release on November 18.
- Listen if you like: Hank Williams, old country music, Jimmie Rodgers.
BONUS TRACK: Leonard Cohen- “Passing Through”
This song is part spiritual, part folk wisdom, mixed with a union song singalong. It reminds me of something Steinbeck would write. Steinbeck documented our distinctly American heritage and sprinkled in mythology and proverb. In this song Leonard sees Jesus, Adam, George Washington, and Franklin Roosevelt. Gods of American Mythology. In each situation Leonard meets them at the time of their greatest despair. Jesus after he is crucified, Adam after he is banished from The Garden, George Washington at Valley Forge, FDR after WWII. Each time Leonard asks if the world is good or evil. And each one says that there is bad in the world, but there is good too, and we shouldn’t worry too much, because neither thing lasts forever, the world will go on, and we are all just passing through it.