Ryan’s Music Picks 23 November 2016

It’s been a bit. I’m sure you’re getting lots of emails about black friday deals, but I though you might want some good driving music. I took (am taking?) a break from Twitter and did some stuff with my family. This week we drove up to the Sierras for a family camp, and then took a detour through Yosemite on the way home. Here’s some of what we listened to:

The Blind Boys of Alabama – Atom Bomb (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
I love gospel music, and this Blind Boys album combines their classic gospel harmony sound with some pretty fun covers, including a Fatboy Slim cover featuring Gift of Gab. It’s a great way to start a car trip.

Justice – Woman (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
Justice is one of my favorite French electronic music duos (along with Daft Punk and Air), and I think they’ve gotten better with each album. Though they have mostly abandoned the dirty, noisy version of French Touch house music that made them huge, their focus on combining 70s rock and disco continues to pay off. A perfect steering wheel tapper for LA traffic.

Monster Rally – Mystery Cove (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
I love Monster Rally. It’s the ideal combination of kitsch, beats and vintage soundscapes from the 50s and 60s exotica records. I could listen to it all day, and it’s mellow enough that my kids can fall asleep to it while I drive through the dairies between Bakersfield and Fresno.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
Fleet Foxes’ music is perfect for the California mountains. I know all of the words to their debut and to this album, so it’s a no brainer for driving music while I’m going up and down twisty mountain roads. Rumor has it that they have a new album, and I hope it continues the combination of gruff pastorality with song structure experimentation.

Circle of Birds – Circle of Birds EP (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
A gorgeous tiny instrumental EP from some people in Ester Drang and Unwed Sailor, from 14 years ago. Have you even driven into Yosemite valley from the 41? You go through a long tunnel through a mountain and then pop out with a incredible, majestic view of Bridal Veil Falls, El Capitan, and Half Dome. It’s breathtaking. This three-song EP is some good music for experiencing that.

Calexico – Feast of Wire (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
We drove home through the breadbasket of California and Calexico captures the feeling of those rolling hills and wide expanses populated by orchards, cows and tractors.