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.
U2 + A.R. Rahman – “Ahimsa”
As they were about to bring their 2019 Joshua Tree tour to India, and in doing so, touring the country for the first time, U2 released a new song – a collaboration with legendary composer A.R. Rahman. Ahimsa is the Sanskrit word for non-violence which seems like a very U2 kind of thing to sing about. I’m not being a dick. It just seems like their brand. I have nothing snarky to say about this. I appreciate that the band continues to explore new sounds.
Stormzy – “Audacity” featuring Heady One
Dude is one of the most exciting artists I’ve heard this year. Formally, his name is Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr. Stormzy it is then. He emerged from the UK’s underground Grime scene. But his sound has expanded. He’s had a couple high profile collaborations lately and this track is (don’t say it please just please don’t say it) lit (dammit!). I do so very much love a British accent with my hip-hop. Always have.
Khruangbin and Leon Bridges – “Texas Sun”
Leon Bridges is one of the nicest artists I’ve ever encountered. He is a joy to encounter. And he has a fantastic catalog of collaborations (like this one and this one and this one from last month’s playlist) which now includes this EP he has recorded with Texas trio Khruangbin after having toured with them last year. This is all kinds of fun providing Bridges with arrangements far removed from what we are used to. I am digging this.
Trent Reznor + Atticus Ross – “Life On Mars”
When it comes to Bowie covers, I have impossibly high standards. This one? All. The. Feels. This is pretty special.
Yola – “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
And here we have another cover. Yola’s album Walk Through Fire made my top ten list for 2019. The Dan Auerbach produced album brings UK Northern Soul to Americana music and her recent Grammy nominations will hopefully expose her music to a wider audience. Her back story is pretty interesting and she has a fascinating CV. With the announcement of her 4 nominations for the upcoming Grammy Awards, Walk Through Fire has received the deluxe edition release with a few songs added to the original set. Yola has been covering Elton John’s classic in concert for some time now and we finally get her studio version. She brings a whole new feel to the song and it is nearly a revelation.
Smoke Fairies – “Elevator”
Oh this is a treat. Trippy folk-rock that is heavy on the fantastic 70’s harmonies and a vibe that just makes me supremely happy. These guys are doing something really interesting. When I read that Phil Ed produced this, I had to listen. Imagine First Aid Kit as a dense dark nugget of 70’s British Folk Rock like Fairport Convention or even Jethro Tull. A little heavy, completely heady. I am absolutely looking forward to their new album Darkness Brings The Wonders Home which is coming this January.
Greg Dulli – “Pantomima”
Greg Dulli brought more Rock ‘N Roll swagger to the stage than just about any other front man I’ve seen during his years fronting The Afghan Whigs. He brings the same energy to “Pantomima,” his first official solo single. He plays just about everything on this track and it is a pretty swell hint of what’s to come with his album scheduled for next year.
Moses – Sumney – “Virile”
Honestly, this video is so visually intense that I had to switch to streaming the track instead so I could concentrate on the music. I first ran across Sumney’s music on this Tiny Desk Concert and have kept up with his career. I’ve seen his music described as “orchestral, exploratory indie rock” and I can’t argue with that although I might embellish it a bit. But, I’m still working out those particular bits. He has a new project on the way – a double album called græ coming in two parts beginning in early 2020. This demands your attention and is not the kind of thing you can listen to passively.
Maggie Rogers – “Love You For A Long Time”
Maggie Rogers has had a very good past few years. She has gone from a Pharrel Williams pick to a world wide touring and radio artist. She’s feeling the love. This is her thank you to her fans.
The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights”
Yeah, we’ve all heard the 80’s influences in The Weeknd’s music over the years but here it is just front and center and I am so very much ok with all of this. The operative word here is sheen. So. Much. Sheen.
Cornershop – “No Rock: Save In Roll”
This one is filed under the department of Pleasant Surprises. Cornershop is best known for this slice of perfect 90’s psychedelic brit-pop. I admit that I haven’t been keeping up with the band in recent years. All the same, the band returns with something that seems much better than I would have hoped for.
Alanis Morissette – “Reasons I Drink”
The Pleasant Surprise department is popular with this month’s playlist. Upon announcing a tour next Spring (with Garbage!) for the 25th anniversary of her iconic album Jagged Little Pill, Alanis also shared plans for a new album and released a new song that very much sounds like her classic material.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “Wandering Star”
I have planted this track right here between the non-holiday songs and a few of this year’s most interesting holiday releases. I am not actually certain this isn’t a holiday song (update: yep, it is). I’m pretty sure I’m hearing jingle bells in the mix here. So this new jam from Noel Gallagher and Company sits right here, just in case.
Bailen – “Christmas is All Around”
NYC siblings, with the special harmonies that only siblings can produce, have released a couple holiday songs this season. Their take on the song from that weird supposed-best-friend stalker Christmas movie (oh you know exactly what movie I’m thinking about) rinses the “eww” stank from the context of the original. Did I mention the harmonies?
Elle King & Ronnie Spector – “Under The Mistletoe”
You would be forgiven for thinking this was a cover of a classic Phil Spector Holiday tune. That is due entirely to Ronnie Spector’s presence here. Elle King and Spector cowrote this and it is all sorts of fun, a little bit naughty and a whole lot of attitude.
Now, Now – “Lonely Christmas”
Because sometimes the best holiday songs make you want to dance like nobody is looking (I’m thinking of you Saint Etienne).
Kacey Musgraves – “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” featuring Lana Del Rey
Having been a fan of Kacey Musgraves going back to her debut album, it has been fun watching her career explode over the past couple of years. Following up a terrific holiday album from 2016, Kacey debuted her brand new Amazon Holiday special which features a great line up of collaborations. Like this one.
Andrew Bird – “Skating”
Andrew Bird is not only a remarkable whistler, he is a talented violinist. And it is said violin that steps in for Vince Guaraldi’s legendary piano work on his soundtrack for the original Charlie Brown Christmas special. In the case of “Skating,” the violin is a suitably wobbly substitute for the piano and it just seems like a great fit. Also. I’m about as picky about Guaraldi Charlie Brown covers as I am Bowie covers and again, this one passes the test.
Ana Gasteyer – “Sugar and Booze”
I realize that I included Gasteyer’s album in a recent Reset. But no re-cap of the year’s most interesting new holiday songs would be complete without this gem. I can’t believe I am using this term but…it’s perky in the best way possible.
Taylor Swift – “Christmas Tree Farm”
If I’m being honest, this just feels like something that could have come out thirty years ago. That’s a compliment. This hits all the Christmas song BINGO elements in something approaching a total blackout.
THE CLASSIC: The Waterboys – “December”
In the early 80’s, while England was exporting 1st Wave artists like The Human League, Depeche Mode, The Eurythmics, Wham!, Duran Duran and Culture Club to the rest of the world, Mike Scott’s The Waterboys were making what he referred to as Big music. Their records were, and I do so very much loathe this word, epic in every sense of the word. The music was sweeping and earnest. It was unlike everything else being made at the time. “December” is from their incredible album A Pagan Place and while it is not as familiar as their biggest hit “The Whole Of The Moon” it still gives me all the feels. And the Anglophile in me appreciates the Celtic overtones coupled with lyrics that share a Keatsian wonder.
For previous editions of The Playlist, see the growing archive here.
See the Spotify playlist here.