Justin Vernon’s latest effort may be his finest– 22, A Million is a collection of songs that despite (or maybe because of) its fragmented layers of glitched instruments and auto-tuned vocals is both haunting and demands to be listened to again and again. It’s unfair to peg them as hymns as they are not solely religious, but just as gospel music has directly influenced some of the more prominent hip-hop releases, 22, A Million feels equally informed by sacred music in its truest sense. The processed vocals “33 ‘GOD'” sound like a gospel choir and the song ends with a swirling, transcendent flourish.
Despite being originally released in 1997 from the album Synkronized, this song gained a second life thanks to the film Napoleon Dynamite some seven years later. Renowned for their infectious take on funk, R&B and disco, “Canned Heat” is the band at their most direct– a single that’s ready-made for any dance party.
Stevie Wonder’s magnum opus, Songs in the Key of Life, was released 40 years ago today. The sheer scale of this album cannot be understated and even more impressive, despite clocking at over 100 minutes, there isn’t any fat at all on this album. It’s poignant and relevant even today, with no finer example than the song “As.” Featuring contributions by Herbie Hancock on the Fender Rhodes, the song continuously builds from a relatively intimate and breezy love song into a densely layered, gospel-like wall of sound, complete with handclaps and multiple background vocals.
“Cause I’m a man, woman
Don’t always think before I do.”
For anyone masochistic enough to suffer their way through last night’s presidential debate, this is the only song short of R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” that makes sense for today. A song that blames one man’s insecurities as to why he can’t apologize and say he’s a jerk, this hypnotic song is one of the finer moments off of Tame Impala’s Currents.
Music legend Buckwheat Zydeco died today at age 68. One of the very few to successfully bring zydeco music to the masses, his epic live performances and larger than life personality underscored his 40+ year career.
These guys are an Apple ad away from a full-fledged breakthrough but in the meantime, the Ann Arbor-based outfit has made quite a stir with their live performances as well as their highly interactive social media presence. It, of course, helps that their music is so infectiously good as evidenced by the bubble gum pop/funk of this track from 2015’s Thrill of the Arts. Diverse doesn’t even begin to explain the band’s tastes or their stylings, but they manage to make it work and have accrued an equally varied fanbase for that reason.
It’s officially the first day of fall (or autumnal equinox if you prefer the scientific term) so now you can officially embrace all things pumpkin spice and cozy up next to the fire. While “Autumn Sweater” is more about falling in love than anything else, the smoldering keyboards and brushed drums make the perfect backdrop for any fall road trip.
“Do you remember
the 21st night of September?”
Yes, today’s September 21, so it seems to be a no-brainer to share this song for the day. For such a seemingly simple and straightforward tune, there are few as addicting and catchy as “September” even 38 years later. Stop what you’re doing, and indulge in three and a half minutes of bliss.
Michael McDonald was recently jamming with Thundercat in Los Angeles, much to the delight of those in attendance. While it may seem like an odd pairing (Kenny Loggins was also in attendance), you can hear a lot of his influence on both the music of Thundercat and Brainfeeder founder Flying Lotus, who hosted the event. “What A Fool Believes” may, unfortunately, be termed yacht rock these days, but at its core in either its Doobie Brothers or Kenny Loggins interpretation, the song is blue-eyed soul at its finest.
While the single is also great, Beck’s music video for “Wow” is everything one could ever hope for and more. It’s still uncertain if either this or “Dreams” will make it to Beck’s upcoming album but in the meantime, enjoy the madness.