Music is a little like food and clothes. These are areas where it’s probably worthwhile for one to explore & expand their tastes. The Playlist is assembled each month by Dappered’s very own music correspondent, Tim Johnstone. Tim is a former Virgin Records Label Rep & current award winning Program Director at KRVB, which was awarded the FMQB AAA station of the year markets 50+. You can also catch his work on Fridays when he assembles the Weekend Dossier. Got a Spotify account? You’ll find a link to this month’s playlist at the end of the post.
Zach de la Rocha – “Digging For Windows” NSFW lyrics, naturally.
Well, wow. This will get some people talking. The voice of Rage Against The Machine steps up with his first official solo single, a monster of a track that starts off old school D.I.Y. with a basic synth rhythm loop, gradually opening up with more Casio goodness, building layers and intensity. All in all, the production is industrial music circa 1985, think Wax Trax. When the guitars are there, they are heavily treated. All in all, a dizzying attack worthy of la Rocha’s legacy. Gym playlist material for sure.
Prophets Of Rage – “The Party’s Over”
Expectations are high for this project from the rest of Rage Against The Machine with Chuck D of Public Enemy and Cypress Hill’s B-Real. Pairing Tom Morello’s guitar work with the voice of Chuck D and B-Real is a peak 90’s nostalgia event. And the rhythm section that anchored Rage’s brand of heavy hitting. Is there anything new here? Probably not. But does it really matter?
Kings of Leon – “Waste A Moment”
The Followill clan return with a charging song about folks who live in the moment regardless of the consequences. The band is in great form here, with Caleb’s vocals as strong and singular as ever, and a really great variety of guitar tones worked throughout. It comes on fast and ends on abruptly, before you’re ready to let go. This is a promising taste of their upcoming album Walls. No matter what Kings of Leon does in the future, I will always appreciate them for this.
Banks & Steelz – “Giant”
Not only does this month’s playlist feature a heavy dose of Rock N’ Roll, it features several new projects whereupon some of the biggest voices in Hip Hop pair up with some notable modern rock artists. Banks and Steelz is Interpol’s Paul Banks and Wu-Tang’s RZA. The two of them bring together politically charged verses from RZA and catchy, dreamy, hooky choruses from Paul Banks. It is at once slick and polished, yet still tense with an energy that pulsates throughout. Hope there is more like this to come.
Pinkwash – “Longer Now”
Two guys from Philly who whip up a glorious din on this blistering new track. Dive into the shifting rhythms and the layered instruments, vocals buried in the middle of the mix for the most part. This is compelling stop/start rock with a lot of early 00’s rock textures. Big thanks to Weekend Dossier superstar contributor Eric H for bringing this to our attention.
BETWEEN THE BEATS:
- GRACE IS NOT GONNA LIKE THIS: There is a reason we used to say “We built this shitty ass rock and roll…” Yup, snarky little asshats even then. It is a long, strange and disappointing trip from this classic and this classic to that rubbish.
- COCAINE & SEX & THE LAST MINUTE SOUNDTRACK: “The Man Who Fell To Earth” is one of those movies that made a lasting impact on my grey matter. This story, besides being a revelation, gives you a pretty good idea about what was going on then with some of the biggest names in music.
Chairlift – “Crying In Public”
Chairlift are deservedly getting attention for this lovely track. There are hints of Julia Fordham here, with a breezy arrangement which blossoms with the song, bringing in additional flourishes before easing back again. This is easy to get lost in.
Sting – “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You”
This was unexpected. Nothing Sting has done in the last ten years has given any hint that he was about to return to the world of regular old rock music. This isn’t sea shanty shit. This is more like The Police than anything the man has done in twenty years. You have to give the man credit – he sounds good. And that makes hearing him in this context, an arrangement built upon ringing guitars and backing vocals is better than hoped for.
M.I.A. – “Bird Song” (Diplo Remix)
Slinky and sexy and a bit off the rails. M.I.A. teams up with her ex on a song that makes me move funny. This is what she does best – laying socially and politically charged rhymes over a groove that benefits from all sorts of left field production elements.
Bon Iver – 33 “God”
Justin Vernon isn’t just an indie rock darling anymore. The man has stepped up to work with among others, Beyonce, over the past couple of years. He has also organized his own music and arts festival. And here, he returns with a song that is leaps beyond earlier work. It is a sonic epiphany. A single piano melody opens the song, and as other instrumentation is introduced, his voice comes clear and familiar. As a variety of vocal elements (including what sounds like an auto-tuned android) tell their stories, there is a deeply soulful feeling to parts, think Prince or The Weeknd. Fantastic.
Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam – “1000 Times”
Whereupon The Walkmen’s front man Hamilton Leithauser teams ups with electronic artist Rostam for a soaring folk rock song complete with organ, harmonica and acoustic guitars. Emo-Dylan?
De La Soul – “TrainWreck”
These godfathers of Hip Hop return with an album that respects their legacy and gives long-time fans reason to celebrate. Raising over $600,000 on Kickstarter for the project, Posdnuos, Dave and Maseo have brought in Snoop, Usher, Pete Rock, Damon Albarn, David Byrne , 2 Chainz and others. “TrainWreck” is laid back and funky and importantly, the boys sound good. Add in some horns, and the background elements add to the atmosphere of the song.
Warpaint – “New Song”
Try not to get this out of your head. This L.A. all woman band serves up an undeniably catchy, at times ethereal song which bubbles along on an elastic rhythm with layered vocals and lots of percussion.
Barry Gibb – “In The Now”
Yes. Barry.Fucking Gibb. Because this man is responsible for some of the most iconic hits of the 70’s. Because with his brothers, he wrote some of the greatest weepers of the 60’s (evidence here and here and here). And, also, because of this wondrously over-the-top piece of pop history. So yes, Barry Gibb. The last of the Gibb brothers. His first ever solo record. The groove is more restrained. His voice remains front and center, a little less powerful than before, but when he stretches some of the old flame is there. And as the song progresses, the energy picks up and the mood is set. This is unexpectedly solid. It’s Bryan Ferry’s suave mid 80’s material crossed with Leonard Cohen’s mid 90’s musical arrangements and, well, Barry Gibb.
Teenage Fanclub – “I’m in Love “
Oh boy. Instant gratification. One of Kurt Cobain’s favorite bands, sharing a label with Nirvana back in the early 90’s, Scotland’s Teenage Fanclub return with their Byrdsian harmonies and chiming guitars. This is indie-rock nostalgia for sure, but it’s also quite welcomed.
Empire Of The Sun – “High and Low”
Australian musicians Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore began collaborating as Empire Of The Sun in 2008. Since then, the duo, who are also visual artists, have brought a cinematic scope to their music and their live shows. Their sound has been picked up by other Aussie bands (looking at you Atlas Genius) but nobody does it as well. This is the first single from their upcoming album Two Vines.
Highly Suspect – “My Name Is Human”
This sucked me right in. There’s a whole lot to like here but I think you should just put on some headphones and turn it up. Then we can talk about how cool it is to get a chorus melody that sticks in your head.
THE CLASSIC: Beastie Boys – “Sabotage”
It just feels appropriate.
PLAYLIST TRAILER: “Supersonic”
This will be going on my “to see” list.
For previous editions of The Playlist, see the growing archive here.
Click here for the Spotify playlist.