Nada Surf – Cold to See Clear

nadasurf

After the longest break between records of their career, Nada Surf has followed up The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy with You Know Who You Are. On the single Cold to See Clear, Matthew Caws and crew certainly know who they are musically. You could even say the anthem is arch-Nada Surf, providing a textbook example of the lyrical themes and power-pop chops the band is known for.

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Vandaveer’s Studio Session Playlist

Vandaveer

In honor of Vandaveer’s tenure as February’s artist in residency and the release of The Wild Mercury this week, frontman Mark Charles Heidinger put together this playlist. “I opted to go with tunes/albums that were in regular rotation during various studio sessions for our new record,” Heidinger told WFPK. “One must put fuel in the tank if he expects his engine to run.”

Sun Kil Moon – Sunshine in Chicago

Mark Kozelek’s combative and cantankerous ways are well documented. He holds little back and regularly veers into uncomfortable terrain. There’s a directness and immediacy to his songwriting that I find magnetic and arresting. This album was in regular rotation during the first phase of tracking for our new record. I think it probably influenced me in a number of ways, from trying to write less abstractly to the manner in which we tracked our vocals. The Sun Kil Moon catalog is gorgeous and unsettling. Kozelek can endear and offend in a single verse. Strangely compelling. I could pick just about any track from this record.

Beck – Paper Tiger

Sea Change might be a desert island disc for me, assuming said desert island had electricity, stereo equipment, non-perishable goods and a way for me to stay hydrated long enough to relax and think about listening to music. The complementary talents of Beck and producer Nigel Godrich are nearly unmatched. My bandmate J. Tom Hnatow introduced me to a Serge Gainsbourg record called Histoire de Melody Nelson on a recent tour. Beck openly admits to borrowing liberally from the production and arrangement of that record, specifically on “Paper Tiger.” Art imitating art, not theft. It’s inspiring. And a standout among standouts on this record. The strings are so frenetic and dramatic. Great depth of field on this tune.

Phosphorescent – A Charm/A Blade

Another record we had in regular rotation during the early sessions for our new record. Such a pleasing experience, listening to this album, especially underneath a pair of quality studio headphones. We’d fire up the console, put on a few records and drink our morning coffee before tracking. invariably we’d turn to this album — so much so that we started to irritate Duane, our producer man. Matthew Houck layers his vocals one atop another but maintains that delicate, vulnerable quality he does so damn well. It’s an army of voices, but they still sound tender and intimate. The delivery of the line “Cut my heart but do it fast / Don’t want that hurt to last” from “A Charm / A Blade” is just perfect.

Bob Dylan – Most of the Time

It doesn’t get much better than Dylan and Daniel Lanois. I know Time Out Of Mind is considered their high water mark together, but I find myself turning to Oh Mercy more. The progression from demo to album cut of this particular tune is stunning. We spent a lot of time listening to this record during The Wild Mercury sessions, too. We borrowed liberally from the Lanois playbook with re-amped guitar tones. The studio had this huge empty warehouse space next door. We left a speaker out there and would regularly send guitar tracks, organs, whatever out to it at blistering volumes. Then we’d put a mic 50, 100 feet away in the far corner of the warehouse and re-record the whirlwind of sound that it produced. “Warehouse it!” became a common phrase we blurted out during these sessions. Thanks, Bob & Dan. We owe you one.

Sturgill Simpson – Just Let Go

Sturgill is doing Kentucky proud. It’s inspiring to see someone from your old hometown ride a serious wave to real success, and — more importantly — to do it with fantastic songs. This is country music, sure, but it’s also much more than that. The man can flat out sing. And lyrically I find myself regularly digging in for more. “Gonna transmigrate to my destination / Far beyond time in an eternal dream” isn’t standard country fare. He can also give a hell of an interview. Entertaining on so many levels. And then there’s that guitar player — Laur Joamets from Estonia… an absolutely phenomenal player. I’m excited to hear the next record. I expect it to confuse minds and furrow brows in the country world, just as it should.

M. Ward – Confession

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Confession is the second single from M. Ward’s first solo album in four years, More Rain. The track is built around a steady and inviting groove that’s reminiscent of the cathartic feeling you get after a much-needed confession.

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Randall Bramblett’s Fall Playlist

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Randall Bramblett is coming to town on Friday, just as fall feels like it’s kicking into high gear. In honor of the changing weather and Bramblett’s Live Lunch set, here is his fall 2015 playlist.

Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands – Bob Dylan

Fill up the whole side of an LP why don’t you? One full on beautiful elegiac surreal masterpiece that changed the way I thought of songwriting forever.

Oh, Mary Don’t You Weep – Aretha Franklin

From her Amazing Grace live album. This one just gets to me. The powerful voice of the Queen and the choir behind her with Bernard Purdie and Chuck Rainey. As the Reverend C.F. says, “Aretha has never left the church.”

Get Off In It – Eddie Hinton

Blue eyed soul from one of the Muscle Shoals greats. What is he saying at the beginning? No one knows. “A wise man once told me” is how the verse starts out. It’s a swirling mystery of a song about getting off in it (the mystical world. love, getting high?) He left us too soon for me to ask him.

Concierto de Aranjuez – Miles Davis

This one is from Sketches of Spain. I always thought this is one for the desert island. Gil Evans’ harmonies and Miles’ sparse melodies still affect my song writing today. Genuis!

My Lagan Love – Van Morrison & The Chieftans

Irish blues delivered with such power and freedom by the master and his soulmates from the Old Country. Sounds like he finally came home on this one. Love the way it ends. Classic Van ad-libing into the mystic.

San Fermin – No Devil

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San Fermin frontman Allen Tate goes full Bill Callahan on the plucky single No Devil, and this is in no way a complaint. The track appears on the deluxe edition of San Fermin’s Jackrabbit LP, which is out now.


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St. Germain – Sittin’ Here

stgermain

St. Germain, whose albums Boulevard (1995) and Tourist (2000) originated a genre of French electronic music that later included artists like Air, has returned to the studio to create his first album in 15 years. The self-titled record marries percussive grooves, which have always been central to St Germain’s sound, with a new element: traditional Malian music.

Sittin’ Here features Guimba Kouyate on guitar and Nahawa Doumbia on vocals.


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