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+. Got a Spotify account? You’ll find a link to this month’s playlist at the end of the post.
The Strokes – “Bad Decisions”
Welcome back fellas! Oh I know, you’ve been coming back around every few years but not like this. This is every bit as good as what we loved about your first EP. This is the good stuff. And yes, it does sound a bit like Generation X’s “Dancing With Myself” which is why Tony James and Billy Idol ended up with a song-writing credit.
Margo Price – “Twinkle Twinkle”
Hot damn! Margo Price previews her upcoming album (her third) with a blistering new track that is ringing every single bell I have. And this makes sense since it is produced by Sturgill Simpson. I am a fan. Sturgill’s approach provides a terrific base for Price’s vocals. They make an excellent pair here.
The Killers – “Caution”
This is what The Killers do so well. Songs that reach for the sky, synths sweeping things along and Brandon Flowers belting for the rafters. It would seem the heartland has shifted west to Las Vegas.
Austra – “Anywayz”
Pristine electro pop from Austra, who assembles a glittering mixture of pop influences from Kate Bush and ABBA, Giorgio Moroder and Book Of Love, in something akin to The Never Ending Story although far, far more pristine, and in a way that’s far icier than I thought possible while still being a bit bubbly. Got all that? Quite the trick.
Bush – “Flowers on a Grave”
Maybe it’s because Gavin Rossdale was so damn good in this movie, or maybe because his was one of the most interesting and enlightening interviews I’ve done over the years, but I will always check out what these guys are up to. And what they are up to is a pretty good update of the sound that made them famous. I’m not really sure why this qualifies as a guilty pleasure to me but I’m owning it.
88GLAM – “Swim”
Well how do you do? Canadian hip-hop act 88Glam will release Close To Heaven Far From God in April. It is now on my must-hear list. This is kind of weird and that is immediately appealing. It would appear that I am down with some of this sung/rap stuff.
Rufus Wainwright – “Peaceful Afternoon”
Rufus Wainwright, for those not familiar, is basically music royalty. His father, Loudon Wainwright III, is the basically a modern day bard, a Will Rogers of his generation, with a wicked sense of humor and a gift for wry, occasionally biting and often nostlalgic songs. His mother is Kate McGarrigle, who, along with her sister Anna, made influential records under the Kate and Anna McGarrigle moniker. And his sister is also a fantastic singer songwriter. So, yeah. Rufus is supremely gifted. He is coming back to where his career started with a new album of singer songwriter material. He has been making records about Shakespeare Sonnets and he did an album inspired by opera over the past several years. This is a long way of getting to this: Rufus makes glorious power pop/chamber rock albums that are rich with emotion and Wainwright’s lovely vocals.
The Dears – “The Worst In Us”
The Dears are a criminally underrated band from Montreal. Led by the husband and wife team of Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak, they have made some of most engrossing modern rock since the mid 90’s. (Their song “Thrones” is one of those songs that I find myself listening to over and over again without realizing it). They suck you in with an earnest intensity that begs adoration. Once again, this song. That remains a big part of what they do as they introduce their upcoming album Lovers Rock (they’re 8th, available May 15th on Dangerbird) with a song that very much represents their DNA.
Ballroom Thieves – “Tenebrist”
Yeah. I’m pretty sure I listened to this about 4 times through the first time I heard it. I had never heard the band previously and there was something about the combination of lead vocals, the terrific backing vocals, the horns, and the uplifting feel of the song connected with me instantly. It’s just this close to being old fashioned tent revival territory in the best way possible. “We need the dark to know the light.”
Yves Tumor – “Gospel For A New Century”
HEADS UP FELLAS: This video is definitely not safe for work. This video is so over the top that it nearly laps itself. Mostly. It is hard not to smile at Yves Tumor’s obvious delight in doing what he’s doing. The song itself is a beefy song with a thick and fuzzy funk rhythm, an ominous horn section and some verbal showmanship and some sexy going on here.
Lady GaGa – “Stupid Love”
Paws up bitches!
Early James – “It Doesn’t Matter Now”
Once again Dan Auerbach introduces us to an artist to watch. Early James is a kid out of Birmingham AL who is sorting out his place musically and Auerbach’s production puts him in capable hands. He has a unique voice and is dabbling in the alt-blues genre. He stopped by the studios at the station I run recently and performed a few songs for us. You can check them out over here.
Anderson .Paak & Justin Timberlake – “Don’t Slack”
I don’t care if this is for a movie about trolls. This is pretty fun jam. I’m wiggling in all the right places at the moment.
Gogo Penguin – “Atomised”
This trio of guys from Manchester, UK incorporates electronics in their approach to modern jazz. I’m digging this. These guys are on the Blue Note label.
Alanis Morissette – “Smiling”
This one is for all of us who love it when Alanis goes minor key, with sweeping string arrangements and an unbearably lovely melody, earnest and alluring, that gradually builds until you just can’t even anymore. This was written for a key scene in the Broadway musical built around her 1995 album “Jagged Little Pill” but will appear on her new album out soon.
Nation Of Language – “Tournament”
This is perfectly executed synth-pop for those of you who remember early Depeche Mode and Erasure, Red Flag, Camouflage and the like. If this played today on SiriusXM’s “First Wave” channel it would fit in perfectly.
Butcher Brown – “Tidal Wave”
Butcher Brown are a jazz group with hip-hop tendencies – the band believes that hip hop and jazz come from the same soul. You get what they mean on a track that pays homage to Ronnie Law’s “Tidal Wave.”
Phoebe Bridgers – “Garden Song”
I’ve become a fan of Bridgers’ work over the past couple of years. Whether on her own, or working with Connor Oberst (The Better Oblivion Community Center), her collaborations with Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker as boygenius, or her work with The National, she has been part of some of the most celebrated records of the past few years. This is the first single from her upcoming album and it is what we’ve come to expect. Sparse, intimate and inviting, this song is nearly as wobbly as the video which was directed by her brother.
Archers Of Loaf – “Raleigh Days”
This is the first new music in 20 years from a North Carolina band that was a huge part of my 90’s self. Excuse me while I get a little bit happy. Loud, fuzzy and full of spit. Nice to have you back fellas.
Glass Animals – “Your Love (Deja Vu)”
This is a welcomed return from a band that had a scare a couple years back when their drummer was hit by a delivery truck while riding his bike in Dublin. That set the band back for a bit but they return with a slinky percolating bit of psychedelic pop. It’s sneaky how it takes hold.
Bonnie Light Horseman – “The Roving”
I was exposed to a great deal of folk music growing up and it is part of my musical bedrock. Bonnie Light Horseman (a nod to the traditional tune of the same name) is something of a folk music supergroup. Updating classic folk songs and contributing originals cut from the same cloth, the band has produced an album that has been widely acclaimed.
The National – “Never Tear Us Apart”
The Cincinnati band contributes a cover of INXS’ classic ballad to an Australian bushfire benefit compilation. This is pretty swell.
Parsonsfield – “Paper Floor”
This is the best Death Cab For Cutie song that isn’t actually a Death Cab For Cutie song. That is in no way a slight on this band. It is a compliment. To be fair, the band is more than just a comparison to Ben Gibbard and Company. This is an energetic and layered song that just sucks you in and takes off.
THE CLASSIC: Mazzy Star – “Fade Into You”
Mazzy Star’s hazy psychedelic folk rock classic was an unlikely hit. While the music industry was tripping over themselves trying to find the next huge grunge band, David Roback and Hope Sandoval were doing something very much their own. Theirs was a sound that had been developed over the course of Roback’s work with Rain Parade and Opal. He had been instrumental in Los Angeles’ Paisley Underground, a movement led by psychedelic influenced bands like The Bangs (later The Bangles), The Three O’Clock, Rain Parade, Green On Red and others. I put together a Spotify playlist for the curious which you can check out over here. This song is as evocative and sensuous now as it was when it was released.
For previous editions of The Playlist, see the growing archive here.
See the Spotify playlist here.