Hello Kiddos. Been a long week so the writing hasn’t been substantial. Lots of wheels in motion, both under our roof and in my head so concentrating on making time for the thing I love to do has been difficult. We’ll get it back on track. Promise.
Anyways, on this holy day we call Friday I wanted to just share a handful of tunes that I’ve been enjoying as of late. Some from albums that are coming out in the next couple months, and some already out. Some even a year old. Just a smattering of musical magic to get the synapses firing in the tired, worried collective brain we’re all trying to get on getting on with.
So seek these out and find some peace.
The Smile : “Panavision”
Very few albums this year have konked me over the head with such tasteful force as The Smile’s A Light For Attracting Attention. And for an album that’s fully loaded with A+ songs front to back no song on this album gets my brain humming quite like “Panavision”. The ghostly piano, Thom Yorke’s vocal melody hanging in the air like the smoke from a blown out candle, and the Greenwood-arranged horns that bring to mind Sir George Martin in Lennon/McCartney mode, this track lingers in my brain long after it ceases to fill a room. Puts me in mind of Radiohead’s excellent “The Daily Mail”, “Deck’s Dark”, and “Spectre”; Radiohead tunes that live outside the box and make Radiohead one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time by eschewing everything we think we know about rock and roll. “Panavision” is in that class of song.
Preoccupations : “Ricochet”
Canadian band Preoccupations(formerly Viet Cong) came out of the ashes of the band Women, with singer/bassist Matt Flegel and drummer Mike Wallace starting the band with guitarist/keyboard player Scott Munro and guitarist Daniel Christiansen. They’ve released a steady stream of post/punk/shoegaze-tinged rock and roll since 2013. Their latest album Arrangements drops in September and they just released the single “Ricochet”. It’s yet another urgent, driving track that seems to bring together the best of post-punk, shoegaze, and 80s college rock with a healthy dose of righteous indignation. It’s hard for me to put into words what this band does to my brain, but they seem to pull me back to a time when as a kid I’d hear bits and pieces of indie rock and I could feel it rewiring my brain. A kind of intellectual violence happening to my psyche that I wouldn’t understand until years later. “Ricochet” puts me back there.
Tim Heidecker : “Sirens Of Titan”
When I first heard about Tim Heidecker(of Adult Swim’s ‘Tim and Eric’ fame) putting out earnest pop rock albums I wasn’t sure how to take it. I was used to his esoteric, almost avante garde comedy and felt as if maybe it was just another absurdist comedic turn. A put-on, if you will. But after hearing his 2019 album What The Brokenhearted Do I realized this was no put-on. Heidecker is a hell of a songwriter of the 70s singer/songwriter calibur. Think Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, and the whole Lenny Waronker/Reprise Records era. His new album High School is out today and sounds as if Heidecker is feeling nostalgic. “Sirens Of Titan” gives me all the feels as high school was when I discovered Kurt Vonnegut as well. I remember reading Sirens Of Titan on spring break my sophomore year, staying up till 2 am in my parents living room reading about Tralfamadore as I played Stuart Hamm’s Radio Free Albemuth quietly on the stereo. This song is great, and it has Kurt Vile on it as well. All the more reason to put this in your head.
Liam Kazar : “I’ve Been Where You Are”
Sometimes the algorithm gets it right. While listening to Heidecker the Amazon Music bot played a “similar to” track from a guy named Liam Kazar. The song was called “I’ve Been Where You Are” and it hit me hard. Absolutely gorgeous power pop track that, like Heidecker, locked into 70s singer/songwriter fare with just a touch of odd whimsy. His song is a consolation to someone going thru a rough time, and Kazar telling them he gets it, he’s been there. His vocals are in that perfect spot; a warm tenor that has just the right amount of confidence and vulnerability. I immediately listened to the whole album Due North which came out in 2021 and bought it off of his Bandcamp page. If I’d heard it last year it may have been my album of the year. It’s that good. But “I’ve Been Where You Are” is songwriting of the highest order. Please listen to this guy. He’s amazing.
Spirit : “The Other Song”
I’d like to thank Bill Hader and Alan Yang for introducing me to the world of Randy California and Spirit. Sure, I’d heard the one-off tunes here and there over the years but it wasn’t until this season of Barry that I was introduced to the incredible track “The Other Song” off of Son Of Spirit that I truly “got” what they were selling. There’s always interesting song choices on Barry, but this one had me googling that shit as soon as it started playing at the end of the episode. Phased-out drums, funky vibe, and some seriously greasy guitar lines pulled me in as soon as I heard it. Soulful vocals come in and then jazzy, almost proggy breakdowns that remind me of Robin Trower and Hendrix on a McLaughlin kick. If you’ve never heard this track, then do yourself a favor and dig into this deep, deep album cut.
Well that’s all I got for today. Give these songs a whirl. I think you’ll dig them. Have a great weekend folks, and I’ll see you on the flip side.