20 Songs For September 2015

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Every month I make a playlist of the songs, old and new, that I listened to the most this month, and I write about why I picked each each song. At the bottom is a Spotify playlist with all these songs.

Grandaddy – “A.M. 180”

(This month Grandaddy announced that they were making a new album. It was the perfect excuse to go back through their discography and rediscover some great songs that I forgot about. Under the Western Freeway and The Sophtware Slump are the two albums you want.)

The New Pornographers – “Use It”

(I don’t listen to the New Pornos a lot, but when I do I really get into it for a couple of listens. Twin Cinema is a great starting place for newbies.)

Elvis Costello – “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes”

(This month I went through a pretty intense, albeit brief, early Costello phase. This is one of his best singles off his debut album.)

Tweedy – “Nobody Dies Anymore”

(This is one of those songs that you can listen to a million times and each time you hear something new that will blow you away, whether it be in the cryptic all-meaning lyrics or in the disarmingly simple arrangements. This is also a great “Summer is ending and Fall is finally here and it makes me sad but it also makes me glad” kind of song. Sukierae has really grown on me and I can see it gaining some sort of cult status, much like how 808s and Heartbreak was a low key influential album until Pitchfork decided to do a thinkpiece about it.)

Blink-182 – “What’s My Age Again”

(Because I turned 23 this month…)

IGBO – “Creamy”

(It was on one of my Friday Mixtapes, yet I still love this song oh so much.)

R.E.M. – “King Of Birds”

(See my note about Elvis Costello.)

Craig Finn – “Newmyer’s Roof”

(I’m a big fan of this album, especially this song. It’s a genuinely strong song that tackles 9/11 and doesn’t try and force or exaggerate any dishonest feelings for the sake of imagery or patriotism.)

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – “Bottled In Cork”

(Ted Leo was one of those musicians I always heard about from friends to check out. For one reason or another I never did, but this month I was finally given a specific starting point: The Brutalist Bricks. It’s a fun album, bouncing around between different styles and, like the best rock & roll, it never takes itself too seriously. If you like this then you’ll want to check out the rest of his work.)

Bob Mould – “The Descent”

(I ignored this album when it came out 3 years ago because I wasn’t a Hüsker Dü fan back then. Now I know better, and Silver Age is a worthy solo album that makes a case for Bob Mould The Songwriter instead of Bob Mould The One Guy In Hüsker Dü.)

The Libertines – “Anthem For Doomed Youth”

(Anthems For Doomed Youth is a great album in the same way that the most recent Strokes albums are great; it’s good music that has virtually no hype or press trying to turn it into an event. All you have is the music, but for some people that’s not enough. Oh well. It won’t convert you into a Libertines fan, but for the rest of us it’s a nice thing to have another Libertines album in the world, especially one this good.)

Gillian Welch – “I Want To Sing That Rock And Roll”

(Like a lot of musician I love, I discovered Gillian Welch through Ryan Adams. She sang and played instruments on Heartbreaker and she was an associate producer and performer on the Grammy winning and essential listening O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Time (The Revelator) is a great album if you also like Heartbreaker.)

Deerhunter – “Breaker”

(I’ve always liked the idea of Deerhunter, a band that combines nearly every great genre of the past 30+ years, throws them into a magical blender, and churns out Amazing Southern Americana Gothic Rock that is brilliant down to the very jangly riffs that they steal from their fellow Georgia neighbor R.E.M. However I can never finish an album without getting bored. Both Microcastle and Halcyon Digest are considered masterpieces (and they probably are) yet I can never listen to them from start to finish. Sometimes it’s just too ~weird~ man. However “Breaker” is already my favorite Deerhunter song because it sounds like the Deerhunter that I want to fall in love with. I’m sure that this new album won’t be the masterpiece that triumphs Halcyon Digest (though you ever know), but I have a feeling that this new album will be this band’s gateway drug.)

Josh Ritter – “Right Moves”

(Josh Ritter is one of my favorite songwriters, and when he premiered a new song off his upcoming new album I celebrated by listening to all his albums. The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter is probably the album I’ve listened to the least, but I still fall in love with the wide range that this album covers.)

The Promise Ring – “Is This Thing On?”

(The best part of this year’s emocore revival is probably all the old albums that I’ve discovered from the late 90s and early 2000s. Nothing Feels Good (a very emo album title indeed) is getting a reissue, thus I play this song in celebration.)

Ryan Adams – “Bad Blood”

(Of course.)

Buffy Sainte-Marie – “Ke Sakihitin Awasis (I Love You Baby)”

(I had no idea who Buffy Sainte-Marie was when she beat out Drake at this year’s Polaris awards. So I wrote about her.)

Built To Spill – “Velvet Waltz”

(I was going to go see Built To Spill this month so I spend some time with their old albums. It didn’t work out, but at least I have a few new favorite BTS songs.)

Jeff Tweedy – “The Ballad Of The Opening Band”

(I usually try and stick with one song per artist, but this song is one of my cornerstones of my Fall Playlist, so it belongs here.)

The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – “You Can’t Live There Forever”

(This Album Is Not The Masterpiece That It’s Hyped Up To Be & That’s Ok Because Because It Still Has A Lot Of Great Songs.)

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Buffy Sainte-Marie, The Woman Who Won This Year’s Polaris Music Prize

Buffy-Sainte-Marie-560x560

The annual Polaris Music Prize goes to the Canadian artist who made the best album of the year, and this year it went to Buffy Sainte-Marie for her 2015 record Power in the Blood.

Truth be told I never heard of Buffy Sainte-Marie before this week, yet I recognized every other act who was also nominated for this year’s prize (Drake, Tobias Jesso Jr., The New Pornographers, BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah, Caribou, and the soon-to-be-renamed Viet Cong). I decided to do some research on her, since Polaris has a pretty great track record of nominations, and I’m sad to report that I’ve been missing out on such a talented artist who has been making great music for 50+ years. But I’m also happy, because now I have a few new albums to check out.

Buffy_Sainte-Marie_3_(Repetities_1968-03-06_Grand_Gala_du_Disque_Populaire)

Buffy Sainte-Marie is an electro-acoustic folk musician in the vain of Björk or Kate Bush trying to be more like Bob Dylan, and she was an innovative figure in early psychedelic folk. She does everything from protest anthems, to heart-on-your-sleeve love songs, and to straight up jams with a full band. She is also a visual artist and an activist who focuses on the rights of Native Americans (she herself is a Cree). She also appeared as a musical guest on “Sesame Street” from 1976-81.

Power in the Blood is both a celebration of an influential career and another milestone for an artist who has always gone her own way, and it’s worthy of Canadian music’s highest honor.

Check out “It’s My Way” and her revision version that opens up Power in the Blood below.

“It’s My Way” (1964)

“It’s My Way” (2015 reversion via Power in the Blood)

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