Five Quality Tracks: October 2017 (+ September 2017)


1. Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile: “Over Everything”

You know that feeling that comes every so often when you’re surrounded by people you like and you feel as comfortable and content as possible? “Over Everything” gives me that same feeling. It might be partially due to my undying love for both the artists featured here. Courtney Barnett, of Melbourne, Australia, has charmed me with her music since the release of one of my favorite songs, “Avant Gardener”, as well as her amazing 2015 album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Her ability to rock hard (like on “Pedestrian at Best”) and pull back and reflect (“Depreston”), all with extremely witty lyrics to boot, is amazing. Philly-native Kurt Vile has also been a staple of my music listening, appearing on many a year-end list of mine (my favorite song of his being the quietly cathartic “Wild Imagination”). No one had any inkling that the two would make music together at all, let alone for a full album, but they formed a mutual respect of each other’s work, which led to a friendship and collaboration.

Aside from my feelings for the artists, “Over Everything” just feels like putting on a huge warm sweater. Vile and Barnett trade verses, not to mention trade both acoustic and electric guitars, as they kick back and let the groove wash over us. “Over Everything” is the pure essence of contentment, diluted into song form.

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Five Quality Tracks: September 2015

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This was a feature that I used to do for the Daily Californian’s Arts & Entertainment blog. I decided to give it life again here. At the end of each month, I’ll post a feature highlighting five quality tracks released during that month.

1. Deerhunter: “Breaker”

Bradford Cox is the face of Deerhunter, known for his stream-of-conscious style of writing and erratic genius, but the band’s secret weapon is Lockett Pundt, guitarist and occasional songwriter. Pundt released a solo album under the moniker Lotus Plaza in 2012 that was very important to me during three months that I spent in Chile. It was a time when, being in a new place, my vulnerabilities were more raw, and thus, the music I was listening to was especially potent and life-affirming. The highlight from that album was “Remember Our Days”, which featured beautiful guitar interplay and a simple but welcoming melody singing “If I don’t see you again, I’m glad that you were my friend, I’ll remember our days.”

Rarely does Pundt emerge from the background on Deerhunter songs, but he shares vocal duties with Cox on “Breaker,” one of two excellent singles released from their forthcoming album Fading Frontier. They harmonize gracefully on the verses, before Pundt takes over on the chorus — and let me just say that the chorus is straight-up amazing. It bursts open with a melody so good (and simple) that I can hear Paul McCartney singing it (which, by the way, is basically the highest compliment you can pay to a melody). “Breaking the waves, I can not, no, I tried, I can’t seem to stem the tide.”

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Best Albums of 2011

For some reason, Facebook decided by Best Albums of 2011 post broke some kind of copyright, so it (and all of its HTML) got deleted. For those who are interested, here was my list (with a little less pizazz unfortunately).

25. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

24. Yuck – Yuck

23. Black Lips – Arabia Mountain

22. The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck

21. Atlas Sound – Parallax

20. Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread

19. Real Estate – Days

18. Generationals – Actorcaster

17. Adele – 21

16. The Strokes – Angles

15. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

14. Radiohead – The King of Limbs

13. Cults – Cults

12. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne

11. tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l

10. The Roots – undun

9. Wilco – The Whole Love

8. The Antlers – Burst Apart

7. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo

6. Beirut – The Rip Tide

5. Drake – Take Care

4. The Black Keys – El Camino

3. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

2. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

1. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Highlight from 2011: Kurt Vile – “Society is My Friend”

With a touch of Neil Young and Nick Drake, Kurt Vile dropped Smoke Ring For My Halo last year (which made it into my top 10 albums of 2011). It snuck up on me out of nowhere. The instrumentation is intricate and the way Kurt sings is enthralling. “Society is My Friend” is one of the standout tracks, containing layer upon layer of acoustic guitar and a repeating groove that gets in your head. Hear it below.