Foxygen – “Coulda Been My Love”

Enough time has passed – can we all now re-listen to …And Star Power and agree it’s a great record? When it came out two years ago, critics ripped apart Foxygen for making a bloated double LP that shamelessly wore its sleaziness on its furry, leather sleeve. They were right, but that’s not the point.

The highs here are high man, with genuine soul jams like “How Can You Really” and slower ballads like “Coulda Been My Love,” which belongs in the soundtrack for my imaginary Richard Linklater sequel to Dazed and Confused in which the gang goes to the prom and slow dances to Foxygen.

The 1975, an equally sleazy band also attempting interstellar soul-rock, is having a moment right now, so I can’t think of a better time to listen to …And Star Power than right now.

Brian Eno – “By This River”

Often I like the idea of Brian Eno more than Brian Eno himself.

From his time in Roxy Music to his groundbreaking work as a producer for the likes of U2 and David Bowie, Eno has often been behind the boards for many of your favorite albums. Also it’s hard to overstate the long shadow that his ambient influence has cast over popular music in recent decades (Steven Hyden made a good case on Grantland that Kid A was just Brian Eno meets Aphex Twin).

He’s also a critically acclaimed solo artist, but this is where I start to struggle. His most popular albums (Another Green World and Discreet Music come to mind) are all fine works that I sometimes think are great if I’m the mood. But often this requires me to study the album and trace its influences to what came after. I’m not naturally attracted to ambient music, so I have to tell myself that Eno is good in order to believe he’s good.

“By This River” is different. It’s one of the rare moment I hear Eno as a genuine singer-songwriter. And he sounds great! It’s sparse and fearful, with minimal instruments accompanying Eno’s soft voice. It sounds like the humanized Kid A. It has melody. It’s beautiful.

Maybe I’ll give Another Green World another shot.

They Might Be Giants – “Your Racist Friend”

Year: 1990

Album: Flood

It’s such an innocent and goofy sound, like the stuff you’d hear on Tiny Toon Adventures (oh wait), but I believe it was Kurt Vonnegut who once said that laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. Also, if you’ve never listened to They Might Be Giants, start with Flood.

Arthur Russell – “Answers Me”

Year: 1986

Album: World of Echo

This has been a hell of a weekend right? I don’t have the time, energy, or Tidal subscription to process the new Kanye album, but I will share Arthur Russell’s “Answers Me” that Kanye sampled on “30 Hours.” It’s such a strange and formless atmosphere that sounds more like a sketch than a final song, so it’s a testament to Kanye’s ability as a producer to use this song to create this: