Playlist: 25 Of Kanye West’s Most Recognizable Samples (via Spotify)

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As you can probably tell, I’m very excited for the new Kanye West album to come out.

As one who will admit to have not invested a large amount of time into rap and hip-hop music, my love for Kanye West has always come from his production. His ingenious sampling of classic and obscure R&B and rock tunes has won me over along with other countless rock loyalist who freaked out the first time they hearing Kanye sampling Ray Charles on “Gold Digger”.

In honor of tomorrow’s official release of Yeezus (though I’m sure you’ve already heard it by now), I present to you a Spotify playlist of Kanye’s most recognizable samples. I narrowed the list down to songs that are recognizable on their own and within the songs in which they’re sampled. I didn’t put any songs on here that I couldn’t find on Spotify, which unfortunately excluded a lot of great songs (sorry “Iron Man”).

Hear the playlist here.

And for a reference, here are the songs on the playlist divided by its album appearance from oldest to most recent.

The College Dropout (2004)

“I Just Wanna Stop” – The Jimmy Castor Bunch [“We Don’t Care”]

“Mystery Of Iniquity” – Lauryn Hill [“All Falls Down”]

“Distant Lover” – Marvin Gaye [“Spaceship”]

“Spirit In The Dark” – Aretha Franklin [“School Spirit”]

“Through The Fire” – Chaka Khan [“Through The Wire”]

“Man In The Mirror” – Michael Jackson [“Family Business”]

Late Registration (2005)

“Move On Up” – Curtis Mayfield [“Touch The Sky”]

“I Got A Woman” – Ray Charles [“Gold Digger”]

“Wildflower” – Hank Crawford [“Drive Slow”]

“Home Is Where The Hatred Is” – Gil Scott-Heron [“My Way Home”]

“Rosie” – Bill Withers [“Roses”]

“My Funny Valentine” – Etta James  [“Addiction”]

“Diamonds Are Forever” – Shirley Bassey [“Diamonds From Sierra Leone”]

“It’s Too late” – Otis Redding [“Gone”]

Graduation (2007)

“Kid Charlemagne” – Steely Dan [“Champion”]

“Harder Better Faster Stronger” – Daft Punk [“Stronger”]

“My Song” – Labi Siffre [“I Wonder”]

808s & Heartbreak (2008)

“See-Line Woman” – Nina Simone [“Bad News”]

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

“Cinderella” – Roald Dahl [“Dark Fantasy”]

“21st Century Schizoid Man” – King Crimson [“Power”]

“She’s My Baby” – The Mojo Men [“Hell Of A Life”]

“Avril 14th” – Aphex Twin [“Blame Game”]

“Comment #1” – Gil Scott-Heron [“Lost In The World”/”Who Will Survive In America”]

Watch The Throne (2011)

“Try A Little Tenderness” – Otis Redding [“Otis”]

“The Makings Of Your” – Curtis Mayfield [“The Joy”]

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Playlist: Hipster Approved Chillin (Via Spotify)

 

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So I made this Spotify playlist of great songs that every true hipster would love. These are songs that would go great with your roof party with christmas lights and PBR, or while you’re retweeting something Amanda Bynes said that’s supposed to be ironic, or during your argument with a fellow hipster concerning which Wes Anderson movie Bill Murray is best in (which would be Rushmore).

Not a hipster? Don’t worry, for every obscure and random gem here there’s also a classic that everyone should know. And at the very least, these songs will make you cool!

 

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You’ve Never Heard Of…Wilco?

Today I am introducing a new kind of post: “You’ve Never Heard Of?”  This is dedicated to all the bands/artists that are well respected among artists and the music industry but may not be as well known among the general public. While “You Should Know” focuses on new and upcoming bands, “You’ve Never Heard Of?” will focus on credible and established bands that deserve some more acknowledgment.

To begin this new series, let’s talk about a little band from Chicago called Wilco…

Among music critics and among all your annoying hipster friends, Wilco’s name always gets mentioned for various reasons.  Their weird mix of Americana and experimental makes Wilco a hard band to pin down.  Are they the American Radiohead?  Is Jeff Tweedy trying to sound like Paul Westerberg backed up by Television covering Gram Parsons?  Hell, Wilco could pass for Krautrock on some songs.  What I’m trying to get at is that Wilco has never belonged to one genre, alienating fans but also attracting those who admire Wilco for trying to write pop songs in the weirdest way possible.  Through countless lineup changes and internal struggles, Wilco has made some of the best, though sometimes arduous, popular music for over a decade, and I’m about to give Wilco-newbies a little history lesson.

Let us start from the beginning.

Wilco began as alt-country band destined to further the legacy of Jeff Tweedy’s former band Uncle Tupelo, one of the seminal alt-country bands that helped popularized the genre.  At first that was exactly what Wilco was – a mix of Gram Parsons songwriting and punk attitude that sounded exactly like Uncle Tupelo.

A.M. was Wilco’s first release in 1995, and it underwhelmed Uncle Tupelo fans with music that was uncomfortably familiar.  The album has some great tunes (“Dash 7” especially), but fans of Uncle Tupelo enjoyed Trace more, the debut album from the other half of Uncle Tupelo, Jay Farrar.

Trace was the better album, but A.M. still enjoyed modest success, enough to keep Wilco going to make another alt-country record.  Except Wilco didn’t make another alt-country record…

A year after A.M., Being There was released, and fans were in for a curveball.  Two disc full of songs that literally went all over the place in style and volume, I can’t even call this an alt-country record – it could only be described as a Wilco record.  The twang was still there, but now it shared the space with heavy distortion, psychedelics, and complex pop songs.  For being a double-album, the music never seemed dragged on and each song feels right on the record.

The album was a hit and made Wilco a band to watch out for.  Jeff Tweedy knew he was onto something, so for the next record he would go further down the rabbit hole.  But before he did that, he took a little detour to Mermaid Avenue.

Mermaid Avenue was a special project started by Woody Guthrie’s daughter after Being There.  Young Guthrie had a box full of her father’s lyrics that she wanted to be recorded for a new generation to hear the famed folk singer in a whole new way.  The result was a collaboration between Wilco and British folk singer Billy Bragg, and what a collaboration it was.  Every song on the record is great, and it is a great introduction to Woody Guthrie.

This album was exceptional, but their next one would be even better.

Summerteeth was even weirder than Being There, but the songs are so catchy!  I would call this Tweedy’s Brian Wilson album, a mix of layered arrangements with deep and sometimes cynical lyrics.  A lot of this change had to do with the the larger involvement of fellow band member Jay Bennett, who pushed Tweedy to further his songwriting into uncharted territories.  The album’s beauty is striking, but hidden under those beautiful melodies are some eerie, sometimes disturbing images (“I dreamed about killing you again last night / and it felt alright to me” from “Via Chicago”).  This is not an easy record to get into, especially for those unfamiliar with Wilco, but like all great records it grows on you. Personally this is a top three Wilco album for me.  The whole album feels tight but the individual tracks stand out on their own.

The album was successful and now Wilco started to have more of a following.  However, what they would make next would be a game changer.

Wilco is still making great music, but it’s safe to say that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is THE Wilco album.  Just when things couldn’t get better, they did.  Jeff Tweedy and the gang created their own world, a world in which American aquarium drinkers (with minds filled with silvery stars) try to break our hearts while saluting ashes of American flags, all on top of falling in love with heavy metal drummers and telling Jesus not to cry.  Sounds strange doesn’t it?  It should, because this is by no means a conventional album.  This is not a pop record, and this sure as hell ain’t an alt-country record.  YHF is a scattered record that was made during a very scary period of American history, and all we were looking for was a little beauty, and music fans found it in this album.

So how did Wilco follow up a near-perfect record?  They made a perfect record.

While not as accessible as YHF, which itself is already a hard album to get into, many Wilco fans have dubbed A Ghost Is Born the band’s best album, which is hard to argue against.  The songs are longer and take more time, but the payoffs are worth it.  From the insane guitar work in “At Least That’s What You Said” to the acoustic buzzing of “Muzzle Of Bees”, the highlights of the album showcase Wilco at a creative peak.  For some people there is an uncomfortable amount of “noise” and a lack of “music”, and I would have to agree.  When I say this is perfect, I mean that every song fits wonderfully into each other and creates a true listening experience.

After A Ghost Is Born Tweedy went to rehab and became sober.  The question of an artist’s creativity after becoming sober is a bullshit question, but there is no doubt that Wilco’s music chilled out after Tweedy got clean.

Nothing seems to divide Wilco fans more than Sky Blue Sky – either you hate it or you love it.  I love this album because it was the first Wilco album I ever heard, and it got me into the band.  It is one of their most accessible albums, even if it’s their least exciting.  The best thing about Sky Blue Sky is guitarist Niles Cline, whose solo on album highlight “Impossible Germany” is one of my favorite guitar solos.

Even from the album title, you can tell Wilco The Album  is a very tongue and cheek album.  Much of the album sounds generic, and its best moments don’t stack up to their past albums.  This was Tweedy’s first album completely sober, so some undeserved backlash came upon the band.  Still, there are hidden gems on here, “Country Disappeared” and “Wilco (The Song)” are both excellent.

Last year’s The Whole Love was a huge relief for Wilco fans at this point in their career.  The band sounded like they were actually trying again, and the songs sounded weird and poppy again!  Both the album opener and closer are experimental and over seven minutes long, but everything in between will remind fans of the poppy days of Being There.  A very appealing album from Wilco hitting their stride.

So there you go – you’ve now heard of Wilco.

So as you can tell from the band’s history, Wilco is one of the few popular bands that truly has evolved.  This is one of America’s most beloved bands, and you need at least one Wilco album in your collection.

Here’s a Spotify playlist of Wilco songs I recommend to anyone who isn’t familiar with the band.  It’s a mix of songs that I consider essential for any listener to know and also more appealing songs for those who aren’t used to what Wilco has to offer.  Enjoy!

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Playlist: R.E.M. Songs That Will Make You Miss Them

When R.E.M. broke up back in September I didn’t really care too much about it.  Sure I knew the band was important and I loved the handful of songs that I knew, but the band’s end did not make me stop to reflect on their awesomeness, cause frankly I didn’t think they were too awesome.

But last week I got into Automatic for the People, and I have a newfound respect for the band – right when they break up!  I’m slowing going back through their discography and I’m finding some great music that I’m really enjoying – I guess they truly are a college band.  R.E.M. isn’t the easiest band to enjoy, but once you “get the band” they don’t leave you.  In the 80s they were the first band to piece together different types of American underground music and created what we know as alternative music.  Very few bands were as game-changing as R.E.M. – Everything before them was post-punk, and everything after was alternative.

The follow songs are sort of a greatest hits collection, songs that remind us why we care about this band in the first place.  I am still making my way through R.E.M.’s catalog, so there are probably some great songs that I’m missing that hardcore fans will be upset about by their absence – forgive me!

“Radio Free Europe”

The song that started it all.  R.E.M.’s first big hit is also considered to be their best.  The opener to Murmur, with its jangle guitar and the unique singing of Michael Stripe, sounds like an Americanized Smiths – except this was before The Smiths (so are The Smiths an Europeanized R.E.M.?).  Good luck trying to sing along with the song though.

“Perfect Circle”

R.E.M. were considered the first alternative band, so this must be the first ever alternative ballad.  A slower song will less jangle and more melody which grows on you after each listen.  A highlight from Murmur.

“Harborcoat”

Another song that reminds me of The Smiths, this song is bouncy and really gets you going.

“Driver 8”

This song has been covered many times, but the original always kills.

“It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”

You might not know R.E.M. well, but you do know this song.  This is for sure one of R.E.M.’s most appealing songs, with a humorous look at a very unfunny time in America.

“Loosing My Religion”

Probably the band’s most well known song.  Even if nobody knows what the song is exactly about, it’s a powerful song and a true standout of the 90s.  Plus you gotta love that mandolin.

“Sweetness Follows”

Right now this is probably my favorite R.E.M. song.  This is one of their deeper songs, both lyrically and musically.  Like much of Automatic for the People, themes of death and life are present, but here the band has never sounded so human.

“Nightswimming”

Also from Automatic, this song is maybe the band’s most stripped down song.  Mainly piano with strings accompanying Stripe reminiscing an innocent time in the past.  Fun fact: the strings in the song were done by John Paul Jones aka the bass player from Led Zeppelin!

Any songs that I missed? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know @BradyWGerber

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Playlist: Songs To Help You Enjoy Your Simple Bliss

Today is a great day.  You’re in a great mood and it’s beautiful outside.  You go out for a walk and you take the time to smell the roses and count your blessings.

These are the songs that should accompany you for these moments.

The Beatles – “Here Comes The Sun”

 

The Cave Singers – “Swim Club”

 

Delta Spirit – “Devil Knows You’re Dead (EP Version)”

 

The Head and the Heart – “Down in the Valley”

 

John Denver – “Sunshine On My Shoulders”

 

Josh Ritter – “You Don’t Make It Easy Babe”

 

Louis Armstrong – “What a Wonderful World”

 

The Moldy Peaches – “Anyone Else But You”

 

Mumford & Sons – “Timshel”

 

My Morning Jacket – “Wonderful (The Way I Feel)”

 

Paul Simon – “Father and Daughter”

 

Tom Waits – “Blue Skies”

 

Wilco – “One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)”

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Playlist: Great Songs Over Seven Minutes

As technology advances at the rapid rate that it does, It seems that our attention spans are getting severely short.  The invention and popularity of the iPod was truly revolutionary, but music took a huge hit.  Listening to albums used to be an event, you would devote time to listen to a whole album in one setting.  Now we have trouble just listening to one song without skipping forward to the next song, and when was the last time you listed to an album from start to finish without stopping?  This is tragic – artist do not create music so that their work can be skipped after the first five seconds if the music does not entice you fast enough.  The following songs make you wait – the best part isn’t in the first ten seconds, twenty seconds, or even the first minute.  They are song that challenge you but soon reward you.

I hope you have some time on your hands, because all these songs are over seven minutes long!  It should be pointed out that I’m not including live tracks.

LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends”

 

Bob Dylan – “Hurricane”

 

Led Zeppelin – “Stairway To Heaven”

 

Ryan Adams – “Nobody Girl”

 

Neil Young – “Down By The River”

 

Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Free Bird”

 

Green Day – “Jesus Of Suburbia” (Sorry but you’ll have to follow the link.)

 

Kanye West – “Runaway”

 

Eric Clapton – “The Core”

 

Prince – “Purple Rain”

 

The Who – “Won’t Get Fooled Again”

 

Don McLean – “American Pie”

 

Dave Matthews Band – “Crush”

 

The Beatles – “Hey Jude”

 

The Rolling Stones – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

 

Oasis – “Champagne Supernova” (Sorry but you’ll have to follow the link.)

 

Derek and the Dominos – “Layla”

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Playlist: (Good) Songs about America

4th of July weekend is upon us!  This is a glorious time of cookouts, fireworks, and great tunes, and I can provide at least one of these. Here are some songs to celebrate (for the most part) our glorious nation that is America.

“American Saturday Night” – Brad Paisley

“American Girl” – Tom Petty

“American Baby” – Dave Matthews Band

“American Pie” – Don McLean

“American Idiot” – Green Day

“North American Scum” – LCD Soundsystem

“Little America” – R.E.M.

“Do Miss America” – Ryan Adams

“America” – Simon & Garfunkel

“Ashes Of American Flags” – Wilco

“Born In The U.S.A.” – Bruce Springsteen

“I’m So Bored With The U.S.A.” – The Clash

“R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.” – John Mellencamp

“Geek U.S.A.” – Smashing Pumpkins

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Playlist: Songs To Celebrate Graduation

Well today I have graduated from high school.  This is such an eventful time and I always try to find the perfect songs to fit the mood.  Here are some of my favorite songs to celebrate the end, and the beginning, of one of the many stages of life.  I tried to find songs that leaned more towards graduation and moving on, but all these songs on this list are about big changes in life and reflecting on it.

Head Automatica – “Graduation Day”

Green Day – “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)”

Alice Cooper – “School’s Out”

Smashing Pumpkins – “Today”

The Beatles – “In My Life”

John Mayer – “No Such Thing”

Eagle Eye Cherry – “Save Tonight”

Eve 6 – “Here’s To The Night”

Foo Fighters – “Times Like These”

Semisonic – “Closing Time”

Steely Dan – “Reelin In The Years”

Fleetwood Mac – “Landslide”

Wilco – “What’s The World Got In Store”

LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends”

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Playlist: Americana Driving Music

I’m going to cheat a little bit for this playlist.  Some of the songs here are not from American musicians and not all the songs are what I consider to be Americana music.  However, what all these songs have in common is that they are all great songs to go driving to when surrounded by nature.  If it’s rainy, sunny, cloudy, or any other type of weather, I find that these songs have a kind of clarity in them that make you see your surroundings more and the music fits with the scenery.

Wilco – “Either Way”

Bob Dylan – “Workingman’s Blues #2”

The Band – “The Weight”

Counting Crows – “Friend of the Devil”

The Head and the Heart – “Down in the Valley”

Ryan Adams – “Oh My Sweet Carolina”

Ryan Adams – “Dear John (Follow The Lights EP version)

Billy Bragg and Wilco – “Birds and Ships”

The Decemberist – “The Crane Wife 3”

Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”

Neil Young – “After The Gold Rush”

Nic Jones – “Canadee – I – O”

Bob Dylan – “Girl From The North Country”

Herbie Hancock – “River”

Wilco – “Jesus, Etc.”

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – “Codeine”

You’ll find that all these songs fit nicely with the songs I enjoy driving down to Bloomington to.

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Playlist: Introspective modern folk songs

For full effect, listen by yourself at night time when you’re in a reflective mood.

“Older Chests” – Damien Rice

“World Spins Madly On” – The Weepies

“Quiet” – John Mayer

“Waiting On an Angel” – Ben Harper

“Skinny Love” – Bon Iver

“Lua” – Bright Eyes

“I Will Follow You Into the Dark” – Death Cab For Cutie

“All At Once” – Jack Johnson

“I Was Just Thinking” – Teitur

“Stop This Train” – John Mayer

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