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 Reset. Got a Spotify account? You’ll find a link to this month’s playlist at the end of the post.
Hey. They’re back. It’s been more than ten years since we last heard from Jack White’s band of friends from the Detroit music scene including Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence, and Patrick Keeler. It’s just hard not to like what they do. It’s not fancy. There are no pretenses here. Just solid hooks. And cowbell. Good to have new music from them.
I have not been so impressed by an artist on first listen in many, many years. The moment Ondara, a native of Nairobi, Kenya began to sing, I was mesmerized. We are talking goose pimples all the way down. I can’t explain why I am so affected by this. His voice. The harmonies. The vaguely 60’s flavored folk rock arrangements. I think this guy is going to be very special.
OK. Imagine what a guy version of Lana Del Rey would sound like? With a little Chris Isaak thrown in? And David Lynch? Presto! Video may not be safe for work considering some of it was filmed at the Chicken Ranch in Nevada (the inspiration for this broadway musical and movie).
Mary Timony (guitar, vocals), Betsy Wright (bass, vocals), and Laura Harris (drums) make up Ex-Hex. Mary Timony was at the heart of the indie-rock scene of the 90’s fronting Helium, known for their guitar based alternative rock. And that is what we get here: a high-spirited rave up with sunny harmonies and crunchy power chords.
Gary Clark Jr. is not mincing words – or licks – on this preview of his upcoming album. Powerful stuff, this.
And here we have a bunch of blokes skillfully tipping their hats to the likes of Mott The Hoople, Lou Reed, The Faces and other late 60’s/early 70’s artists. None of these guys were around when this genre of rock was all the rage the first time around. Would I mind if this sound came back around? Not. At. All. They have a reputation for putting on great live shows.
Future’s music nearly always keeps me engaged and in the moment. I may not be able to understand what he’s saying all the time, but I can count on imaginative beats and vocal treatments. And action movie videos.
There is more to Snow Patrol than “Chasing Cars.” Let me be clear: I admire Gary Lightbody a great deal. It’s not just about his songwriting. He is a fierce music fan in his own right. He has constantly supported upcoming artists by giving them opening slots on tours. He’s covered these artist’s songs. And he has emerged from a very low period and, with his band, released one of the best albums of 2018: Wildness. “A Dark Switch” is a great example why.
Charlotte Gainsbourg returned to releasing music a couple years ago after a seven year absence. She was busy making movies. I cut her some slack for that. She’s got a new ep on the way and this is our first taste of it. “Such A Remarkable Day” is light and airy synth pop, despite the fact that the bottom end is thick with synthesizers which percolates and pulses as her vocals drift above it all.
Go big or go home. I’m not being snarky when I suggest that Angels & Airwaves might very well employ this as a mission statement. A&A works in many genres at once and leaves subtlety behind in the breadth of their sound. No whispering here.
Lovely music from a woman who is the epitome of the multi-hyphenate. Kelsey Lu is a cellist, a singe and producer. And with “Due West” she brings us joy. There is a laid-back happiness here, with an arrangement that breathes and gives space to get lost in. She has her fans: “Kelsey Lu makes slow and spacious music, confronting you with lingering tones and vocal melodies that ascend and dive.”—New York Times This very well might lift you out of whatever Winter blues you are encountering. Also, produced with the help of Skrillex, and I did not see that coming.
This is your extra strength block rockin’ gym-friendly beats from the guys who led the way. You can party like it’s 1999. Again.
Michael Franti is a gentle giant. His musical evolution (from punk band the Beatnigs, to industrial hip hop outfit The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy to his current band) has seen him move his activist driven approach through a variety of genres. He is genuinely one of the loveliest people I have ever met (I have done many radio related events with Michael over the past 20 years and have seen him perform since his days with the Beatnigs) and this song from his new album Stay Human 2 illustrates how his approach has changed over the years. This is an old fashioned Summer Of Love kind of protest song with a giant heart.
Anytime Aesop Rock wants to rap poetic about his furball, I’m on board. Thanks to Joe for sending this my way. I’ve had this on repeat just to enjoy AR’s wordplay which is a percussive instrument in itself.
Whereupon Boston’s long-running alt-pop band channels Madness and Blur and a little Captain Sensible in this cheerful, somewhat goofy and thoroughly satisfying romp. Yes. I said romp. For the record, nobody in Guster is British.
We have a video game to thank for this latest gift of humid and sultry R&B from D’Angelo. This is just sexy and haunting at the same time. So. Damn. Good.
What a difference five years makes. Sharon Van Etten has done a bit of a reinvention since her last release. This is not a bad thing in the least. And it in no means disparages her wonderful work leading to her new album. Instead, this new Sharon has only strengthened the intensity of her sentiments by what surely feels like a heightened confidence in what she’s doing. I’m really digging this.
When Joe Jackson wrapped up his most recent tour last August, he was so inspired by that series of shows that he went into the studio the next day and recorded this new album. “Friend Better” fits right along side Jackson’s most popular songs. It is the most Joe Jackson record to come from the man in a very long time and it finds him fired up and in excellent form.
half•alive make me smile. A lot. Their music is effortlessly sleek and sexy. That the band choreographed and directed their video makes me appreciate what they are doing all the more. Fully committed they are.
Atmospheric, euphoric and rapturous. This is a glorious din indeed.
David Bowie died just about three years ago. His music is more important to me than ever. Every decade yielded fresh directions and new elements to what was already a rich legacy. A sense of melancholia infuses the musical arrangement and there is a heaviness in Bowie’s vocals which all combines for something quite elegiac.
“All our friends | Now seem so thin and frail | Slinky secrets | Hotter than the sun
No peachy friars | No trendy rechauffe | I’m with you | So I can’t go on”
I had to look up rechauffe to see what it means. A most excellent addition to one’s vocabulary. ré·chauf·fé/ˌ rāˌSHōˈfā,-ˈSHōˌfā/ “a dish of warmed-up food left over from a previous meal.” In other words, leftovers.
For previous editions of The Playlist, see the growing archive here.
See the Spotify playlist here.