I went to San Diego Comic Con this week and that’s my justification for this being late. It’s been a stressful month and it doesn’t look like my stress level will be lowering any time soon. I mostly listen to music in the car and lately it has been my sole de-stressing activity. Also lately I haven’t been driving much. Here’s some stuff I’ve been playing when I get a chance:
Louis Armstrong – The Best of The Hot 5 & Hot 7 Recordings (Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify)
This might seem like such a cheesy choice, but honestly it’s pure comfort music. This stuff works as date night music, sure, but it works just as well as hot lazy afternoon music or late late “it’s finally cool enough to go outside and catch Pokemon” music. Louis Armstrong was unquestionably a musical genius and his 1927-28 recordings with his Hot 5 and Hot 7 ensembles are some of his most brilliant work. West End Blues in particular might just be a perfect piece of music.
Psychic Temple III (Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify)
Chris Schlarb and his Psychic Temple is a band that I can’t get into enough. They started as somewhat ambient free jazz and have slowly migrated into this jazz-informed pop group that, on the surface, mines the same Laurel Canyon strain as Father John Misty. But where FJM gets loud and sarcastic, PT go quiet and meditative. Schlarb’s making the kind of cult music that I’d like to join in on.
S U R V I V E – MNQ026 (Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify)
Speaking of cults, have you gotten into the new Netflix Original show Stranger Things?! It’s incredibly enthralling and leaves you desperate for more after each episode (and after the finale). It’s a 1980s period piece and one of the things it does super right is its John Carpenter-esque electronic soundtrack, done by two of the guys in S U R V I V E. This album hits all of the same notes as that soundtrack does and, if you’re obsessed with the show like me, it’ll take you right back. (Also worth noting is the official playlist for the show’s soundtrack on Spotify–it does not include any of the theme music, just the incidental pop music queues.)
Sara Watkins – Young In All the Wrong Ways (Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify)
Formerly of Southern California bluegrass band Nickel Creek, Sara Watkins’ newest album hits that alt-country/angry pop vein that Neko Case and Jenny Lewis have spent so much productive time in. It’s a breakup album of sorts, but Watkins’ husband (a former coworker of mine) assures me that it’s not about him. If you’ve been feeling burned or burnt out, this should get you back on your feet.
Kero Kero Bonito – Intro Bonito (Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify)
This is avant pop. It’s fun and there are some solid jams, but some of it pretty far out there in terms of what the standard Carly Rae Jepsen fan might be used to. It helps if you’re fluent in Japanese but enough of it is in English (like, proper British English, too) that you can sing/rap along. Sick Beat is the jam I’d start with, though I rock out with the whole album pretty regularly.
Michael Nau – Mowing (Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify)
Formerly of Page France and Cotton Jones, Michael Nau has a distinctive voice which puts me at ease. He’s swung between eagerly complex folk pop and hazy psychedelic folk in those bands, so it should be no surprise that this album is pretty folky too. In a way, this solo album splits the difference between some of Nau’s previous work, clearing most of the haze but keeping the laid back attitude and uncomplicated production that gives the songs a chance to breathe and really come to life. The ultimate in relaxing summer music. Best with tea or beer, a breeze, and your feet up.
(sorry this was a day late 🎶 see you next week)