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A Year in Music

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I have no idea how to start, so I just will. The music I listened to in 2017 was mostly influenced by my Mom’s accident and the half year I spent with her in hospitals and rehab before she died a few months ago.

When she couldn’t talk, she might sing if I played the right song from a Bluetooth speaker I kept bedside. She remembered lyrics on days she couldn’t remember anything else. We’d listen to songs from her youth, songs her parents loved, songs she taught me to love. Hundreds of songs from Dorsey to Sinatra, Mathis to Fleetwood Mac, The Skyliners to Chaka Kahn, Santana to Streisand, Beatles to Radiohead. I could write a book about how Mom’s taste in music influenced my life. I spent decades burning her CDs to return the favor, the last being A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead. Thom Yorke’s voice spoke to her. To us. 

I found myself adding those songs and more to a three hour mix I played at her funeral, from that same Bluetooth speaker set behind a meticulously curated photo collage of Mom’s life. The room was so crowded with friends and family that you couldn’t hear a note of it. Somehow I was fine with that. Music was between Mom and I, anyway, and I had my own little moment weeks later when I pressed eject on her car stereo and A Moon Shaped Pool popped out. I imagined Mom driving down Amboy Road to the beauty parlor softly singing “Daydreaming.”

Somehow I still managed to buy about thirty records this year, my hands down favorite being Soft Sounds from Another Planet by Japanese Breakfast. I listened to it every day driving back and forth over the Verrazano Bridge to see Mom. It wasn’t lost on me that their previous record Psychopomp was influenced by the passing of singer/songwriter Michelle Zauner’s Mom. Soft Sounds from Another Planet is beautiful and smart and vulnerable. I wore that record out. “Diving Woman,” a bit of shoegaze perfection, helped me over the bridge more than once this year.

“When she couldn’t talk, she might sing…”

Women ruled my playlists in 2017. Super talented songwriters like Julien Baker and Melina Duterte (of Jay Som) provided a depth that was totally missing from popular radio. Full disclosure; I dug some of what commercial pop had to offer this year, I can’t front. There’s a reason “Despacito” and “Shape of You” were ubiquitous. But while the rest of the world was feasting on the butt of Cardi B, I was happily listening to Everything Turned to Color and Sunflower Bean.

Sure, I made time for old standbys. Spoon never disappoints, and their record Hot Thoughts is kick-ass front to back. There were also great records from Randy Newman, Roger Waters, Jay-Z, BeckThe Shins, Robyn Hitchcock, Melvins, and others I really got into this year. Reissues from Radiohead, Paul McCartney, and The Beatles were also in heavy rotation, as was the Lin-Manuel Miranda penned track Ben Franklin recorded by The Decemberists. Some key songs from those records and more below. I promise it isn’t all depressing. I need candy, too.

 

Brooklyn's own MC Krispy E has an opinion about most things you can put in your ear, eye, and mouth holes.

Music

DJ PREMIER VS THE RZA

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Music continues to make this unprecedented global quarantine an unexpected treat. On Easter Eve two of the grittiest producers of our generation treated us to a trip down memory lane. DJ Premier and The RZA served up a slew of timeless joints blow for blow. Every cut invoked memories of a time when the critics and fans were universally aligned in appreciating creativity.

Over 150 thousand people zoned in and listened to these legends drop over 40 tracks of pure excellence! The tracks featured the likes of The Wu-Tang Clan, Gang Starr , Jay-Z, Nas, Biggie, Kanye West, Jeru the damaja, M.O.P, Big L, Mary J Blige, Christina Aguilera and many more. It was a Masters class in Hip Hop phonics and the genre’s students around the globe were all tuned in to hear it!

For the unfortunate ones that managed to miss this moment of history, here’s a visual representation of some of the subject matter presented!

Mass Appeal – Gang Starr (The ultimate drive through other people’s neighborhood joint)

Liquid Swords – GZA (This made a lot of MC’s re-evaluate their penmanship)

MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know – KRS-One (DJ’s go to record to make sure their speakers were up to the task)

Wu-Tang Clan – Protect Ya Neck (If getting jumped was a record)

Nas Is Like – Nas (The record that made everyone rewind the first line like wtf did he say?!)

Brooklyn Zoo – Ol Dirty Bastard (The Brooklyn invitation to let everyone know you there)

Yes you definitely played yourself if you decided to cut instagram class tonight! The aforementioned treats were only a couple of lessons shared during this session of night school.

Shout out to the Principals (Swizz Beatz & Timberland) of battles in enhancing our quarantine curriculum by inviting these Professors of Hip Hop. Not only did they raise the bar in competition and quality but they surely injured some necks after the evening’s engaging lecture!

This class originally began with a syllabus calling for one A at the end of the semester. But the students rightfully revolted by keeping it Hip Hop and changing the rules to award the whole subject matter an A+. So on behalf of everyone with an ounce of flavor in their blood, THANK YOU PREMIER & RZA! We appreciate you!

 

 

HB aka The World Traveler is fully committed to exploring and sharing with you what the world has to offer in travel and music. Get on board and enjoy the ride!

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Music

Janita in Love

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ECR Music Group recording artist Janita releases her new single “I Do” today, apropos of Valentine’s Day, and you won’t be able to get it out of your head.

The follow-up to “Bliss I Once Had This,” “I Do” is the second single off her new album, Here Be Dragons, dropping May 1st. It’s an honest-to-goodness anthem of love, saying more with less, and building to a gorgeous frenzy upon that killer rhythm section of Justin Goldner on bass and the incomparable Miles East on drums. Damn, that bass, tho.

Is there anything you can say to someone that’s more affectionate than I see you, I got you? Isn’t that the kind of love we all dream of? In that way the song is as much about the subject as the singer, adding to its depth and beauty.

“I have a restless soul, an innate curiosity which pushes me to learn, and to change. Uncharted territory is terribly exciting for me. I often feel like I’m on the edge of something new, even with those I’ve loved for years and years. ’I Do’ is about the renewal of one’s love for someone––love being the most thrilling of all uncharted territories––and a renewal of one’s commitment to exploring all the corners of the map of that relationship.”

Janita

Both Janita and producer Blake Morgan are the rare breed of artist that continue to grow in leaps and bounds with each new record, when you wouldn’t expect things could get any better. Janita says more in a two word chorus than many musicians do in a whole song. And Blake’s production has only gotten smoother, smarter, and more focused with every release. “I Do” is another shining example of the continued thoughtful collaboration between the two.

Do you believe two artists can find the perfect partner in each other? I do.

Catch Janita’s album release on April 30th at New York’s legendary Rockwood Music Hall.

Using a host of pen names, Eric Curran has been blogging in one form or another for well over 10 years. He's a partner at One Track Mine, and also runs the blog Jealous Foodies.

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Music

Eric’s Top 10 Records of 2019

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As usual, this is a “best of” from records I actually purchased this year. If I didn’t buy it, it’s not on the list. Now get off my lawn.

 

Anak Ko – Jay Som

My favorite album of the year, easily. Jay Som (Melina Duterte) hides gifts in each track that reveal themselves with every listen. (more)

“I’m where I can feel it, I’m where I can feel.”

 

Big Thief – Two Hands

Big Thief are on fire and released two great records this year. “Not,” from their latest, is pure poetry – particularly this live performance. Seeing a band this connected is a beautiful thing.

“It’s not the meat of your thigh, nor your spine tattoo, nor your shimmery eye, nor the wet of the dew.”

 

Jaime – Brittany Howard

Brittany Howard’s first record outside of Alabama Shakes is full of magic – from the classic soul of “Stay High” to the funkadelic “History Repeats.” It may be physically impossible to stand still during the last minute and a half of this song.

“I just don’t want to be back in this place again.”

 

Self Titled – Better Oblivion Community Center

Skillful collab between Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers is some honest-to-goodness songwriting. “Dylan Thomas” is a pure pop nugget I listened to more than my doctor this year.

“I’m strapped into a corset, climbed into your corvette, thirsty for another drink.”

 

Beneath the Eyrie – Pixies

The new record is as cohesive as their early work, yet nothing like it. Bassist Paz Lenchantin plays the Nancy Sinatra role in “Ready for Love.” (more)

“I’m succeeding as a failer.”

 

Lux Prima – Karen O & Danger Mouse

Producer Danger Mouse teamed up with Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for a collection of sprawling space rock. Think Air’s Moon Safari for a new age.

“I’m nowhere, I’m no one, I’m nobody… there’s nobody but you.”

 

Old LP – That Dog

Old LP sounds like classic That Dog – dynamic, sharp, and bittersweet. That bridge at the 2:08 mark.  (more)

“Don’t bother to say goodbye, just walk away.” 

 

Itekoma Hits – Otoboke Beaver

My go-to record when feeling aggressive this year was by Japanese punk rockers Otoboke Beaver. These ladies are magically unhinged.

“ハートに火をつけたならばちゃんと消して帰って.”

 

Lets Rock – The Black Keys

The Black Keys made a quick and dirty record this year in search of the next “Louie Louie.”

“Tell me lies, la-la-la-la-la-la-lies.”

 

Means to Me – Long Beard

Leslie Bear’s jangly dream-pop would be a treat for any Harriet Wheeler fan.

“Only you can make me feel like I need something more to do.”

 

Honorable Mention

  • King of the Dudes (EP) – Sunflower Bean
  • Abbey Road Anniversary Deluxe – The Beatles
  • South Of Reality – The Claypool Lennon Delirium
  • Groove Denied – Stephen Malkmus
  • My Finest Work Yet – Andrew Bird
  • Then I Try Some More – Johanna Steinberg
  • Nostalgia Kills – Jill Sobule
  • Years To Burn – Calexico & Iron & Wine
  • Fool – Joe Jackson
  • Help Us Stranger – The Raconteurs
  • Anima – Thom Yorke
  • Minidisc [Hacks] – Radiohead
  • The Center Won’t Hold – Sleater Kinney
  • Sunshine Rock – Bob Mould
  • Planet England (EP) – Robyn Hitchcock and Andy Partridge
  • Hyperspace – Beck

Using a host of pen names, Eric Curran has been blogging in one form or another for well over 10 years. He's a partner at One Track Mine, and also runs the blog Jealous Foodies.

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