Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 3/8/13
Last night my band Circle Circle played a local basement show and I took the opportunity to ‘pregame’ for it via my radio broadcast that directly preceded it. If for some reason you ever wanted to know what I listen to in order to get psyched up for a live performance, this playlist should give you some kind of indication. For my solo shows, I usually just listen to early Bright Eyes records on repeat… I hope that everyone who tuned in enjoyed the show, and I appreciate those of you who sent in requests. Stream the playlist via a Spotify link at the bottom and be sure to tune in next Friday from 6 to 8 for another live broadcast.
- 1. The Magnetic Fields - “Absolutely Cuckoo”
- 2. The Love Language - “Two Rabbits”
- 3. 10,000 Blades - “I Disagree With Randy Newman”
- 4. Slow Warm Death - “Sunburn”
- 5. Sleater-Kinney - “Modern Girl” (Requested by odd-spirit)
- 6. Liz Phair - “Stratford-On-Guy”
- 7. Jenny and Johnny - “Animal”
- 8. The National - “Start A War”
- 9. Miracle Legion - “The Ladies From Town”
- 10. Sun Kil Moon - “The Winery”
- 11. Devendra Banhart - “Daniel”
- 12. Broken Social Scene - “Stars and Sons”
- 13. Dum Dum Girls - “I Got Nothing”
- 14. David Bowie - “Valentine’s Day”
- 15. Stevie Wonder - “Summer Soft”
- 16. Milo - “Monologion”
- 17. Bright Eyes - “Approximate Sunlight”
- 18. Ólafur Arnalds - “For Now I Am Winder” (Feat. Arnor Dan)
- 19. Shlomo - “Don’t Say No” (Feat. How To Dress Well)
- 20. Baths - “Miasma Sky”
- 21. Giraffage - “Thinking About You”
- 22. The Cranberries - “Dreams”
- 23. Rilo Kiley - “With Arms Outstretched”
- 24. Slow Warm Death - “Blood 2”
- 25. Yo La Tengo - “Before We Run”
- 26. Sharon Van Etten - “All I Can”
- 27. Lou Reed - “Berlin” (Request)
- 28. Waxahatchee - “Swan Dive”
Stream via Spotify:
Lewis and his Blog January 2013 Mix
Congratulations! You made it through the first month of 2013. Give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it. Honestly, we both do. In celebration of your success at surviving this cruel and confusing world, give a listen to my first Monthly Mix of 2013. If you’re unfamiliar with my monthly mix series, the concept is fairly self-explanatory; every month, I publish a 10 track mix via 8tracks, featuring some of my favorite new music that I heard that month. You can find all of my monthly mixes HERE, at my “Monthly Mix” tag.
This month’s mix features tracks that came out in January, many of which are from forthcoming albums. Stream the entire think at the embedded link below, and read up on each track below that. Thanks for listening and reading!
Permanently-disaffected mumblecore rapper Milo (aka Rory Ferreira) kicked off his new EP Things That Happen At Day with an uncharacteristically hopeful cut that seems to promote self-acceptance even in the face of an unwelcoming world. On “Sweet Chin Music,” Milo waxes poetic about his love for pro wrestling, Delta Force 3, and “egg fried rice and fruits,” occasionally dipping out of his distinctive monotone and into a sumptuous half-sing. He reminds himself, rather soothingly, that he “[doesn’t] feel the need to be the best thing ever.” That self-awareness is not entirely anomalous within Milo’s body of work, but it does stand in stark contrast to the material on his darker accompanying EP, Things That Happen At Night. Pick up both of the records at the HellFyre Club bandcamp page.
2. A$AP Rocky - “Long Live A$AP”
Unlike the lyrically-focused and DIY-motivated Milo, Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky bases almost the entirety of his appeal on image and aesthetic. Frankly, the extremity of this image is what makes Rocky such an interesting figure; he is very much a mirror of rap’s fascinatingly narcissistic cutting edge. “Long Live A$AP” is the title track from his major label debut, a triumphantly hi-fi explosion of a record that manages to say absolutely nothing substantial in the best way possible. The song itself is representative of Long.Live.A$AP as a whole, presenting Rocky as the 2013’s greatest hip-hop paradox. He is, at once, a youthful legend, a geographically-transcendent New Yorker, an underground sellout, and a deeply insecure popular kid, both as self-conscious and self-obsessed as only a true narcissist can be. It’s not conceit if you’re right, and Rocky forces us to wonder just how right he may be. Pick up Long.Live.A$AP via iTunes.
3. Beach Fossils - “Generational Synthetic”
With their forthcoming LP Clash The Truth, Beach Fossils are poised to once again usurp the throne of Brooklyn’s guitar pop scene from their overrated labelmates DIIV, who are led by former Beach Fossils member Zachary Cole Smith. Beach Fossils might not have DIIV’s marketably nihilistic look or vague conceptual coherence, but they make up for it in song quality. “Generational Synthetic” toes the line between pop and punk, and although the singer doesn’t lyrically commit himself like a true punk frontman, there’s enough grit to rock out to. Clash The Truth is out February 19th via Captured Tracks.
4. Bleeding Rainbow - “Pink Ruff”
One part shoegaze, one part noise pop, and one part sugary female vocals, Philadelphia’s Bleeding Rainbow are a delectable duo with a lot of potential. Formerly called Reading Rainbow, the band had to change their name in lieu of a potential lawsuit from PBS, but the name change shouldn’t do much to stop them from winning over your heart. Fans of Dum Dum Girls should enjoy “Pink Ruff,” off their latest LP Yeah Right, for its subtle juxtaposition of garage-rocking minor key power chords and infectious pop melodies. Pick up Yeah Right via Kanine Records now.
5. Iceage - “Coalition”
Iceage’s sophomore LP You’re Nothing leaked well in advance of its release, but if you haven’t gotten on the bandwagon yet, now is the time. Lead single “Coalition” is probably poised to be the consensus standout track on the new record from these Danish, mostly teenage punks, and for good reason. In just over two minutes, the band reaches peak levels of catharsis, thrashing about with dualing guitars and cymbals blaring while frontman Elias Rønnenfelt drags himself out of his usual nihilistic apathy and lashes out in an impressively vigorous display of energy. Like the best moments of their last LP New Brigade, “Coalition” is also deceptively catchy, but this track manages to accomodate aggression and pop sensibility in nearly equal measure. You’re Nothing is out February 19th via Matador.
6. Comadre - “Hack”
The best description I’ve heard of Comadre’s aesthetic is that they “graduated from the Fucked Up school of yelling over what is essentially straight up indie rock.” It’s a true description, but the comparison to Fucked Up ends there; unlike their Canadian contemporaries, this Californian punk group doesn’t seem to take themselves so seriously. Their sound benefits from this looseness, allowing them to experiment with sounds and themes that are generally considered ‘outside’ of the realm of punk. On “Hack,” from their new self-titled record, the vocals are as throat-shreddingly aggressive as anything, but the instrumentals contrast starkly, blending shoegazy guitars with a theremin-reminiscent organ patch. Pick up Comadre via Vitriol Records.
7. Junip - “Line of Fire”
Although I’ve grown increasingly apprehensive about listening to sad singer/songwriters playing solo with acoustic guitars over the past few years, I think I’ll always appreciate the presence of a great songwriter singing over full band instrumentation. For this reason, I like Jose Gonzales’ group Junip more than his solo material, although I appreciate the precedent that he set on his own. Though a great song in its own right, “Line Of Fire” just benefits tremendously from the added texture and energy of the synths, drums, and backing harmonies; they actually make Gonzales’ signature Spanish guitar sound even better. Junip’s self-titled LP is out April 23rd via Mute.
8. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - “So Good At Being In Trouble”
This single from Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s sophomore LP (creatively titled II) is deceptively, subtly infectious. Stripping away some of the more psychedelic aspects of their sound, the group took a decidedly low-key approach on “So Good At Being In Trouble,” an analog R&B jam that harks back to the more soothing, gentler side of 70’s Northern Soul. With an earworm chorus and an arsenal of effects pedals at their disposal, Unknown Mortal Orchestra could have easily turned this cut into an anthemic, festival-ready banger, but they didn’t; this restraint is admirable, even though part of me would like to hear them rock out on this track. II is out now on Jagjaguwar.
9. Yo La Tengo - “I’ll Be Around”
New Jersey stalwarts Yo La Tengo may be the most dependable band in indie rock. Until the release of their new LP Fade, I was hesitant to fully commit myself as a fan, but it’s hard to deny the appeal of their genre-sweeping aesthetic on this record. Fade veers, calmly and tactfully, from the psychedelic heft of “Ohm” to the horn-laden grace of closer “Before We Run,” stopping briefly to catch its breath on tracks like the lovely, gentle “I’ll Be Around.” It’s a mostly acoustic piece with subtle inflections of modulated keyboard — the perfect aesthetic for a great romantic mixtape. It’s a respite on the record, but a highlight in its own right as well. Pick up Fade via Matador Records.
10. Christopher Owens - “Part Of Me (Lysandre’s Epilogue)”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I actually like Christopher Owens debut solo album Lysandre quite a bit more than some of Girls’ material. Girls’ records had the ambition and aesthetic prescience, but Lysandre has the heart. As evidence, look no further than the highlight closing track “Part Of Me (Lysandre’s Epilogue),” a heartbreakingly bittersweet Dylanesque anthem that subverts the guitars and harmonica of “I Want You” into something entirely personal to Owens and yet entirely relatable to us. As a songwriter, Owens’ greatest strength has always been forging this balance, and that above all is what comes through on Lysandre.
Stream the whole mix HERE via 8track. Thanks for listening and reading, and have a great February!
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 1/4/13
My first radio broadcast of 2013 went off without a hitch. Thanks for everyone who tuned in and enjoyed some of my early pickings of great new music for the new year. January is a great time because there aren’t too many high-profile new records coming out, but I’ve found that the ones that do get released or leaked around this time are often very good. Last year we had that Cloud Nothings album, the Sharon Van Etten LP, and Perfume Genius all within the first month or so, and this year I’ve already heard solid-to-great new records from Low, Yo La Tengo, Christopher Owens, A$AP Rocky, and more. I’ve also gotten a chance to listen to some stuff that I missed in 2012, such as that terrific Bat For Lashes album.
Check out the full playlist below and stream it via Spotify at the embedded link at the bottom. Unfortunately, since much of the material was new, unreleased, and/or rare, not many of these tracks were available in the Spotify database.
- 1. By Surprise - “Who’s To Say This Year Will Be Any Different?”
- 2. P.S. Eliot - “Mood Ring”
- 3. Aye Nako - “Molasses”
- 4. Beach Fossils - “Generational Synthetic”
- 5. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - “From The Sun”
- 6. Tame Impala - “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”
- 7. Yo La Tengo - “Ohm”
- 8. Bomb The Music Industry! - “Big Kisses”
- 9. Into It. Over It. - “A Curse Worth Believing”
- 10. Jake Shaker - “Hard To Find”
- 11. Christopher Owens - “Everywhere You Knew”
- 12. Milo - “Sweet Chin Music (The Fisher King’s Anthem)”
- 13. Big Boi - “Higher Res” (feat. Jai Paul & Little Dragon)
- 14. jj - “From Africa To Malaga”
- 15. Junip - “Rope & Summit”
- 16. Crayon - “Snow Globe” (Requested by fistfuckthesky)
- 17. Crystal Castles - “Sad Eyes”
- 18. Grimes - “Vowels = Space and Time”
- 19. cLOUDDEAD - “Rifle Eyes”
- 20. Burial - “Truant”
- 21. Teen Suicide - “xxxxxxx”
- 22. Jens Lekman - “Silvia”
- 23. Bat For Lashes - “Laura”
- 24. Low - “On My Own”
- 25. Christopher Owens - “Part Of Me (Lysandre’s Epilogue)”
Stream via Spotify:
Stream: Milo - Things That Happen At Day / Things That Happen At Night (Double EP)
Bookish indie rapper Milo dropped two EPs back to back on New Year’s Day, collectively marking the first great release of the new year. Together, the two 5-track EPs explore duality through contrast. The first is appropriately bright and often melodic, melding Milo’s distinctive lyrical apathy with an emotive, nearly ebullient flow that occasionally dips into Yoni Wolf-reminiscent singing. Meanwhile, Things That Happen At Night is a notably moodier and appropriately nocturnal counterpart, which finds Milo retreating into a shell of solitary self-analysis.
Throughout these two complementary releases, Milo is still dropping references to Kierkegaard & Pablo Neruda, but name drops of video games and other nods to his ‘nerdcore’ roots are few and far between. Mostly, he transcends the niche limitations of his origins by focusing on what matters most: lyrical depth and his remarkable rapping ability. The oddball beats and deceptively catchy hooks are just an added bonus.
Stream the “day” side of the EP above, and then stream the “night” side at the embedded link below.
Lewis and his Blog June 2012 Mix
June was a great month for me personally and an equally good one in terms of new music being released. Check out ten of my favorite tracks that I blogged about this month below. You can stream the whole mix at the embedded 8tracks link immediately below, and read a blurb about each track after the jump. To listen to and read about all my previous Monthly Mixes, click HERE or click the “Monthly Mixes” tab in the ‘links’ section of my blog.
1. Tilly and the Wall - “Love Riot”
Tilly and the Wall's “Love Riot” will open their first full length record in four years, entitled Heavy Mood. Other bands take note: This is how to re-introduce yourself. Although the ties to Bright Eyes and Saddle Creek Records run deep, this track is considerably rougher and scrappier than anything Conor Oberst — or Mike Mogis, who handles the production here — has worked on in some time. Girl group vocals, blistering guitar, and handclaps for miles. Heavy Mood is out October 2nd on Conor Oberst’s Team Love imprint.
2. King Tuff - “Bad Thing”
This track from King Tuff's new self-titled album is a shockingly great garage rock banger, and one of the best singles that 2012 has had to offer so far. The self-appointed King spends his time in the verses feeling something between apathy and self-loathing regarding his bad boy image, but then ultimately revels in it in the electrifying chorus. It'll make you sing, dance, and maybe even do some unwholesome things. After all, doesn't everyone want to be bad? Read my review of King Tuff HERE and purchase the album from Sub Pop.
3. Donovan Wolfington - “Spencer Green”
In keeping with the true punk tradition, Donovan Wolfington wastes no time with introductions. From the very onset of the New Orleans band’s new single “Spencer Green,” they’re screaming and hollering and banging on their instruments like children having a temper tantrum. Their message of frustration and self-deprecation is a familiar one, but when it’s delivered this convincingly, with a surprisingly melodic instrumental palette and noise-pop production value, I’ll buy into it every time. Download “Spencer Green” for whatever you wish to pay on bandcamp.
4. The Helveticas - “Streetlight”
Let me write from experience for a minute. I’ve met a lot of sad musicians from Connecticut, but none of them strike that chord within me quite like The Helveticas do. I’ve written at length in the past about how this band’s appeal lies in their ability to convey feelings of sadness, longing, and loneliness over catchy and even poppy instrumentals, and nowhere is that more evident than on “Streetlight,” the second track from their excellent new album I’m Alright If You’re Alright. If you’re unsure whether to sing along or cry, choose both. Download I’m Alright If You’re Alright from bandcamp HERE.
5. WHY? - “Sod In The Seed”
WHY?'s first single since 2009's Eskimo Snow is an utterly refreshing barnstormer of a track. Like a seasoned battle rapper (and very much unlike the folk troubadour that he postured himself as on their last record) frontman Yoni Wolf goes off the handle on “Sod In The Seed.” In top lyrical form, he delivers line after line of quotable material revolving around the concept of what he calls the “First World curse.” It’s a topic that only WHY? could make this provocative. This band is just fantastic. WHY?’s Sod In The Seed EP will be out August 14th on Anticon.
6. Milo - “The confrontation at Khazad-dûm”
Although Milo's new Milo Takes Baths EP predates that new WHY? single by a couple months, this Chicago-based rapper certainly owes a lot to Yoni Wolf both in his nasally flow and his abstract, reference-loaded lyrical style. The EP’s opening track, which samples Baths' “Aminals” (Milo Takes Baths… get it?), is the highlight of the release, which is thoroughly good as a whole. Download Milo Takes Baths for free HERE.
7. Fiona Apple - “Werewolf”
Fiona Apple’s latest LP The Idler Wheel… has caused quite the hubbub in the internet music criticism community. The word that gets thrown around the most is “authenticity,” and I certainly agree that it’s refreshing to hear a high profile artist be so open and vulnerable on a new record. Although other tracks demonstrate more impressive vocal theatrics, the highlight for me is the delicate, simile-filled “Werewolf,” an honest piano ballad that straddles the line between eerie and comforting. Pick up The Idler Wheel… from Epic Records on Amazon.
8. How To Dress Well - “Ocean Floor For Everything”
The experimental electronic/R&B producer How To Dress Well really surprised me with this track off of his forthcoming LP Total Loss. “Ocean Floor For Everything” reminds me of a pop song that I must have heard as a child, played underwater, or piped into my ears while I was sleeping. Although its experimental trappings are exciting on the first few listens, the real appeal of this track lies in its familiarity. Preorder Total Loss now from Acéphale Records.
9. The Human Fly - “Moth”
As I wrote in my review, The Human Fly's debut LP Everything Feels Bad All At Once is best experienced as a whole. That said, there are certainly some highlights, and the gentle folk ballad “Moth” is one of them. On a record that deals mostly in harsh, dissonant melodies and blown out, distorted production, “Moth” is a calm oasis. Lyrically, it’s also a perfect distillation of the concept behind The Human Fly. “Well I’d love to be a butterfly but I am just a moth,” Robert Mathis sings, dejectedly. Don’t we all want that? Download Everything Feels Bad All At Once for free on bandcamp.
10. You Blew It! - “The Fifties”
Though they may be unapologetically aping Into It. Over It. on this track, I still can’t help but love “The Fifties,” a highlight from You Blew It!'s Topshelf Records debut Grow Up, Dude. Something about soothing, melodic, American Football-style emo will always appeal to me, no matter how old and jaded I get. Keep singing about the fifties and beautiful brown eyes, kids. I don’t think I’ll ever not feel nostalgic. Purchase Grow Up, Dude from Topshelf Records HERE.
I hope you enjoy this mix! Have a wonderful July.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 6/29/12
Thanks as always for tuning in to Left of the Dial last night on WNHU. Last night’s broadcast included a lot of new tracks, a number of which will appear on my June 2012 mix. That mix will be up later today on the blog to stream via 8tracks. If you missed the show last night, you can stream the playlist on Spotify at the embedded link below. Unfortunately, a lot of the tracks aren’t available on Spotify, but it’s the best option at this point. I guess you’ll just have to deal. Anyway, if you’re really interested, I’ve provided individual links to stream each one of the songs that weren’t available on Spotify.
Thanks again for tuning in, and be sure to catch next week’s program, on which I’ll be playing tracks from some of my favorite artists performing at the Pitchfork Music Festival in two weeks.
- 1. The Hold Steady - “Constructive Summer”
- 2. Jawbreaker - “The Boat Dreams From The Hill”
- 3. Titus Andronicus - “Titus Andronicus”
- 4. Spirit Night - "Kerouac"
- 5. Ty Segall Band - “I Bought My Eyes”
- 6. Built to Spill - "Distopian Dream Girl"
- 7. The Promise Ring - “Perfect Lines”
- 8. Milkshakes - "Kalabar’s Revenge"
- 9. Donovan Wolfington - "Spencer Green"
- 10. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - "I Will Be Okay. Everything"
- 11. DIIV - “Doused”
- 12. Jens Lekman - “Your Arms Around Me”
- 13. The Smiths - “What Difference Does It Make?”
- 14. Literature - "ESQUIRE ESQUIRE"
- 15. Tilly and the Wall - "Love Riot"
- 16. Fiona Apple - “Werewolf”
- 17. Destroyer - “Savage Night At The Opera”
- 18. Mister Heavenly - “Diddy Eyes”
- 19. Baths - “You’re My Excuse To Travel”
- 20. Milo - “The confrontation at Khazad-dûm”
- 21. WHY? - “Sod In The Seed”
- 22. Nana Grizol - “Tambourine-N-Thyme”
- 23. Spider Bags - “My Oh My”
- 24. Jens Lekman - “Waiting For Kirsten”
- 25. The Helveticas - “Streetlight”
- 26. Jose Oyola - “I’m The Cloud”
- 27. The Human Fly - "Moth"
- 28. House Of Wolves - “There She Goes”
- 29. David Bello - “Rubberneck”
- 30. Into It. Over It. - "Pontiac, MI (Acoustic)"
- 31. Jake Shaker - "Let My Ocean Floor, Eternal"
Stream via Spotify:
Stream/Download: Milo - Milo Takes Baths (2012)
The Wisconsin-based indie hip-hop artist Milo (aka Rory Ferreira) has a new free album out called Milo Takes Baths, a 7-track release that features him rapping over instrumentals sampled from Baths' excellent 2010 record Cerulean. It’s an interesting release for the novelty of the concept, but it’s definitely worth listening to regardless of whether you’re a Baths fan or not.
Milo spits in a rapidfire, stream-of-consciousness style that must take incredible vocal dexterity to pull off, especially with such an apparently relaxed flow. It’s hard not to draw comparisons to Yoni Wolf of WHY? here, particularly because of the downtrodden tone of his vocal delivery, but also because of Milo’s lyrics, which are filled with obscure references and absurdist images in equal measure. He’s quotable in the way that the best nerdcore rappers of the early 2000s were, but he manages to maintain a level of creative integrity and consistency that most artists in that scene could never reach.
While some indie rappers such as Aesop Rock are breathtaking because of the scope and complexity of their lyricism and delivery, Milo’s strengths lie in his ability to convey personality through more subtle means. His technical skills as a rapper are undoubtedly impressive, but the humanity of his work is what really shines through on Milo Takes Baths. Additionally, the instrumentals on this release form a fascinating complement to Milo’s unique style of rapping. The breathtaking opening track, which features an expertly mixed sample of Baths’ “Aminals,” is a particular highlight.
- 1. “The confrontation at Khazad-dûm”
- 2. “The Ballad of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy”
- 3. “Lester Freamon toe-taps the blues”
- 4. “Prince Abakaliki of Nigeria needs your help”
- 5. “Atlas Flushed (Grumpy Groucho Marxist Response)”
- 6. “Hall 2 with Will’s singing untouched”
- 7. “The Mumblings of Mr. Wav”
Stream Milo Takes Baths above and download it for free at his bandcamp page.