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.
AWW YEAH. This is just all kinds of swagger. And its earworm power is enormous. You have been warned.
Missy Elliott is wonderfully weird. This has always been the basis of her larger than life personality and it fuels the creativity abundant in her work. “I’m Better” is a slow jam built upon bleeps and beats and Elliott’s typically inventive delivery. And when the song opens up with brief harmonies or auto-tuned flourishes, it’s like a quick jolt of electricity. And of course, the video is fantastic.
Remember when Arcade Fire won Album of the Year at the Grammies and suddenly people were asking “Arcade who?” Several years later the band re-emerges with a new track. This is not so much a song as an extended riff. But when Mavis Staples is involved, it becomes something powerful. And just a bit eerie.
There is always a great deal going on in any song from this power pop group based in Vancouver, BC. The lyrics are always clever, the harmonies deep enough to dive in, and the energy impossible to ignore. The arrangement features a cascade of arpeggio synths and a rock solid rhythmic foundation.
Black Joe Lewis & The Honey Bears – “PTP”
If you’re a BJL fan, everything you like is here. Lewis has been serving up hot James Brown style grooves for a while now. It’s aways hot and humid with gritty guitars, excitable vocals and the all so important horn section. Somebody get me a beer.
Imagine Dragons – “Believer”
You know these guys. You know what’s coming. Big vocals right up front. BIG drums. And biggest of all – the chorus. These guys aren’t subtle. But they are catchy.
Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory introduced themselves as Goldfrapp at the tail end of the trip-hop era. And they have evolved ever since. While their last release was a pastoral acoustic affair, this is a return to their electro sounds featured on favorites like “Strick Machine.” It is slick and sexy and propulsive.
Noel’s got this. I’m just gonna sit back and let him do this thing.
Optimism in the face of fear. Dancing to make a statement. This is an anthem for moving forward. I just can’t stop listening.
Damn. What a combination. Alabama Shakes’ Howard and Legend burn it down here. Go ahead and give in already.
Let’s face it: Depeche Mode’s days as a fun new wave synth dance band are long behind them. Their latter career has seen them craft a more restrained and tense take on their sound. But there are fresh elements here, which could come from their new association with James Ford (Simian Mobile Disco). It’s good to hear something fresh in the mix and it gives singer Dave Gahan more energy to work with. And, perhaps, anger.
Not new but new to me. And when I first heard this, it drew me in and proceeded to capture my complete attention in a way that I haven’t had happen with a song in a while. There’s a little Elbow here and an obvious tip of the hat to trip hop artists like Massive Attack. But it is the vocal which grabbed me. Extra points for bringing in the underrated Paul Smith for the backing vocals which hover in the back, providing warmth where there isn’t a great deal of. And that is ok.
For many of us, we have David Letterman to thank for introducing us to this Baltimore trio. Their now legendary performance of this song on his program rightly brought them a great deal of attention. And having caught one of their shows on that subsequent tour I can attest to the power of their live performance. “Ran” is another uptempo dreamy song that is far happier than some of the emotions expressed by singer Sam Herring who is one of the most expressive singers out there.
There is so much confidence in this new single from the Long Beach band. Their break out hit “First” brought them a new audience and this just feels big in scope. There are unmistakable echoes of Michael Hutchence in Nathan Willett’s powerful vocals.
This is pure Alison. It is lovely and intimate and with a simple piano arrangement supporting Krauss’ crystalline vocal, gradually filling out with pedal steel, picked guitar and strings. It’s a beautiful thing indeed.
Never more relevant. Always inspiring. A true legend.
For previous editions of The Playlist, see the growing archive here.
Click here for the Spotify playlist.