Pakistani Pop, South African Jazz, French Synth-Punk
Aux cord missing and nothing good’s on the radio. What 4 CDs you got in the car?
Here's my entry to Question Twitter, where the stakes are low and the engagement rate is high. I keep a box of CDs in our car at all times, but these are the 4 that have gotten the most play lately:
Reggie and the Full Effect, Greatest Hits '84-87: Not actually a greatest hits album, but the debut from the Get Up Kids keyboardist. Drop D emo/pop-punk played through Marshall amp stacks with crunchy metalismo. No skips; skits are actually funny. Every song somehow includes the lyric "run away." Downside: late '90s/early 2000s emo/pop-punk views towards relationships with women can get icky, so your mileage will vary.
The Internet, Hive Mind: R&B band that feels vintage, but sounds new, if you get me. Grooves for days. I somehow feel cooler while listening. Wife, a '90s R&B devotee, is a mega fan.
The Chicks, Wide Open Spaces: Is there a more sing-alongable chorus than, "She needs wiiiiide open spaaaaces"?
Arthur Russell, Love is Overtaking Me: The avant savant in an aw-shucks Midwestern singer-songwriter mode, often introspective or lovey-dovey. Perfect for rides with your sweetie.
So what’s your top 4? Trying out the comment feature for the first time.
A new sixer (almost) every week. Follow my collection on Bandcamp.
Nermin Niazi and Feisal Mosleh, Disco Se Aagay (Discostan): When I first heard the story about this Pakistani brother-sister synth-pop duo from the '80s on an episode of KCRW's Lost Notes, I wrung my internet hands in pain, "I. must. have. this. album. now!" Two years later, Disco Se Aagay is everything I'd hoped it'd be: Pakistani pop music run through the bedroom disco of two teens dreaming.
Io Audio Recordings, A Guide to Drowning (self-released): The eye-popping 4" cube hooked me, but I stuck around for the hypnotic space-rock jams. Acid Mothers Temple's outer-dimensional kraut-psych comes to mind, but the production palette suggests cosmic journeys at home. I think this is all one person, so I'm really impressed by the tactile experience.
Ocrilim, Blwch-ariam/Eiraddfa (self-released): Every member of Krallice has had a prolific quarantine, but I've been really taken with the sprawling direction of Mick Barr's long-running Ocrilim project. He goes unplugged here, including a dulcimer, 12-string banjo, Azerbaijani tar and hand drum. Mick's signature shred is completely at home in this hookah-smoked fever dream, drawing on droning Middle Eastern and Chinese melodies with theatrical frenzy.
v/a, Indaba Is (Brownswood): After documenting London's vibrant jazz scene, Brownwood turns its ears towards South Africa. À la We Out Here, lots of fabulous, joyous sounds across a spectrum: snaking spiritual jazz via The Brothers Move On, The Wretched's electric punk-jazz, Sibusile Xaba's divining rod music, The Ancestors' Rhodes-ian soul-jazz.
CUIR, L'Album (Rockstar / Offside): Synth punk, but make it oi! Like his fellow French countrymen in Rixe, CUIR's songs are short, shouty and snotty, but fun in a we just shotgun a case of cheap beer in the parking lot kinda way. More guitars than the first two tapes, but still plenty of New Wave synth leads.
Jäde, Romance (Enterprise): Jäde has a quiet cool about her. When she sings these honey-dipped R&B songs en français, that introverted chic blooms. Think Raveena's sweet voice with Kali Uchis' hazy boom bap.
33 tracks. Lisel's soprano lightens downcast, string-laden electro-pop with Booker Stardrum. Claire Rousay's intimate, tactile ambient. Doom and black and roll hell via Paysage D'Hiver. Now that Unwed Sailor has gone full-on instrumental New Wave, they should really tour (when we can do that again?) with The Reds, Pinks and Purples, which has a record coming out on Slumberland. When Richard Youngs sings, "I'm finding yourself in your smile / Always unravels me," with AMOR, I believe him. Sometimes I like djent, and that sometimes happens now with Pollen. Bomba Estéreo is the best band that folks still sleep on. Naoko Sakata's piano sustain pedal chaos. Elephant Micah channeling Ida. Syd from The Internet being sad. Been revisiting Don't Think I've Forgotten You and Cambodian Rocks comps. Rest in peace, pianist Chick Corea (featuring tracks from Crystal Silence and Circle's Paris Concert) and drummer Milford Graves (featuring tracks from the New York Art Quartet, Albert Ayler's Love Cry).
*Viking’s Choice is back on Apple Music, but only one person has access to NPR Music’s official account, so it may take a day to update.
RIYL sports illustrated
What: 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago (comic)
Why: I prefer listening to baseball games on the radio; it's a habit developed from childhood, tuning Braves broadcasts down low after bedtime. A great announcer steadies your ears for the slow burn, fills your heart with anticipation, paints pictures in your mind. I didn't think comics could do the same until I loaded up my digital queue with stories about Black characters (real and imagined) and came across this 2014 biography of Roberto Clemente. 21 goes beyond baseball into Puerto Rico's political struggles, racial strife and colonialism with a spectral storytelling style, but, dang, I've never seen the movement of the game depicted or written with such dynamic panel play.