The musical floodgates have opened. Bjork, Sleater-Kinney, Joey Bada$$, Belle and Sebastian and Mark Ronson all released huge albums last week, but none of those albums could hold a candle to hometown rapper WebsterX, let alone The Decemberists or St. Vincent. With the competition so stiff right now, you know that the 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To really are the cream of the musical crop.
1. the Soil & the Sun picks Here We Go Magic – “Collector”
Every week I have a guest musician pick a song and talk about why they love it. This week I talked to the lead singer of the Soil & the Sun, Alex McGrath.
the Soil & the Sun stopped in our studio recently and they were wonderful to witness as a band. They rolled into the studio with an old school bus that was painted white with red and blue accent stripes and racks on the top. It was a good looking tour van. The seven piece group came with guests. The first person to introduce herself was the drummer’s wife. She wanted to know if she could walk to a grocery store with their 3-year-old child. At one point the violinist and the main keyboardist were walking down the stairs in front of me. The violinist put her arm around the keyboardist shoulder and said, “I love you” in a way that was both genuine and matter-of-fact. “I love you too,” the keyboardist smiled back, and they walked down the stairwell together, arm in arm, humming and swaying to a made-up song.
- Listen if you like: Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah, songs based around grooves, Animal Collective.
2. The Decemberists – “Philomena”
The Decemberists really are quite funny. I think they get a reputation for being a bit stuffy or pretentious because they sing esoteric songs use polysyllabic words like eidolon, parapet, prevaricate. But they really don’t take themselves that seriously. And Meloy has a quick wit. And he has a way of telling us terrible things with beautiful melodies.
And that’s what I love so much about this song, Philomena. It’s so sing-songy. and cute that I would be gagging if the lyrics matched that temperament (who am I kidding, I’d probably love it). But the lyrics completely corrupt the innocence of melody. And it’s funny, and it’s charming. And it makes for a great song.
I’m not going to tell you what the lyrics are about, because I would blush, so I’ll just let you figure it out yourself.
- Listen if you like: Nursery rhymes, sing-songy songs, irony.
3. Elephant Micah – “Slow Time Vultures”
I used to go on a lot of walks. When I was in high school, living in my parents house, feeling that general loneliness of figuring out your teenage years. I would put my dog on a leash. And we lived in the suburbs, In Franklin, but if you walked a mile south it felt like you were in the middle of the country. There were woods to walk in and horses grazing in pastures. And I would bring my Sony Walkmen CD player and bring a couple of CDs, and I was always looking for something that sounded like this song. Minimal and slow. A long exhale that cleared my head of all of the relationship politics, worries, and anxiety. A song that makes the world slow down. Give it clarity I could manage it. And not only that, I could be present in that moment, and just concentrate on walking my dog through the woods, and seeing its beauty.
- Listen if you like: Sun Kill Moon, slow burners, walking in the woods.
4. St. Vincent – “Bad Believer”
Lets just take a minute here and appreciate St. Vincent. Girl makes great album after great album, then she tours with David Byrne, then re-invents herself and releases St. Vincent St. Vincent, which is a vision of the future. She dyes her hair white and blows it up like she stuck her finger in an electrical socket. Wears weird, angular clothes based on the work of Memphis Group, a post modern design movement, started in the early 80’s. And I am so into that. Her music is amazing. St.Vincent St Vincent was my number one album of 2014. My Number 1! She created a totally new guitar sound. Not only that, the last time she was in Milwaukee she teared up and told us in the audience that she loves us as she crawled up a choral colored plastic throne, and she ended her set at Pitchfork by repeatedly banging her head into the bass drum. When St.Vincent releases a song, I listen.
- Listen if you like: St. Vincent’s album St. Vincent, a ramp up chorus, wonderfully constructed songs.
5. Webster X feat. Siren- “Doomsday”
Remember that scene in Do the Right Thing where Radio Raheem tells the story of Love and Hate? The story of good and evil. Hate “It was with this hand that Kane iced his brother.” Love. “These five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand, the hand of love. The story of life is this: Static.”
Static is the story of Doomsday. A balance of love hand hate. Good and Evil. Damnation and salvation. WebsterX will get throaty and angry. Frustrated. But then he also steps back, hold hands with Siren, and yell “Aaaayyyy” with his friends in pure joy. This is musical pragmatism.
- Listen if you like: Raury, Milwaukee music, The story of Love and Hate.