The glory that is Sasquatch


Currently thousands of good-time hungry people are assembling for the weekend that is Sasquatch, and I could not be any more bummed about it. For the first time in 5 years, I, sadly, am not among them.

It’s pretty difficult for me to write those words (especially because for the first time since I’ve been going, my boy Ty Segall will be there, sludging out with Fuzz), but work and financial obligations have left it impossible for me to join in on the fun this year. And by fun I mean MOST FUN THING THAT WILL HAPPEN IN 2015.

An exaggeration, you may think to yourself? Hardly. In fact, over the course of the last five phenomenally awesome Squatches, I’ve only found myself not having fun once, and that was because Mayer Hawthorne was on the stage, inappropriately acting like the most important guy in the world. And ya know, come to think of it, I was still definitely having a good time at that moment, despite his bro-iness. Because Sasquatch is a non-stop zone of euphoria. It’s nearly impossible to lose the smile from your face while you’re Gorge-side, from the second you join the miles-long car line into camping til the “it’s too damn bright outside!” morning you drag yourself out of George, WA, five days later.

And this year’s gonna be better than ever. With everyone from St. Vincent to Schoolboy Q to Robert flippin’ Plant showing up, fans are gonna get washed over with beautiful music from every genre out there. So why not savor what I’m missing out on by creating the playlist to end all playlists?!

Behold, samplings from every band I know I’d be jamming/freaking out to this weekend. It’s by far the longest musicboots playlist ever compiled, but that’s extremely fitting, considering the festival (and its enormous offering of delicious music) it’s based on.

Dig in.


3/8/15 Playlist

In light of this absolutely gorgeous day out there (hello, 70 degrees, I’ve missed you so…), all my brain wants to hear is happy and rockin’ good music. This playlist more than accomplishes that, particularly with a few rad new tunes I picked up from the radio lately, such as Saint Motel’s “My Type”.

But there’s also some loveliness in there from Moon Duo’s latest, as well as Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear, an album I thought I’d like a whole lot more than I do. In fact, I’d been super excited to review that new album, but after a couple of listens, I’ve been left with zero energy to do so. It’s just a disappointing album, considering what he accomplished with his last, Fear Fun. While Josh Tillman does title his songs better than anyone else out there (see “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” from his newest, or “Well, You Can Do It Without Me” from his debut), he didn’t do as good a job at transferring the fun of their names into the actual music within the songs.

Someone who did do a terrific job with their new album was Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, however – stay tuned this week for a full review on his outstanding solo debut, Policy. ‘Til then, position yourself out there in the sun today and crank this playlist full tilt, shaking your moneymaker with all your might. Happy Spring!

1/18/15 Playlist

All it took was a reminder from last week that Kurt had met Courtney in a local bar 25 years ago before I was frantically digging up all my favorite songs from the early ’90s. As I began compiling them into a playlist for all you lovelies it wasn’t long before I noticed almost every one of them was from 1994.

Which is ironic, because I was only 12 that year and lived in the kind of place that didn’t catch on to brand new songs until about a year after they were released. I remember hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on the jukebox for the first time in ’95, and that was a full four years after it was dropped on the rest of the world. We just didn’t have the radio stations or access to MTV everyone else did, and it left us missing out on the incredible redirection music was taking at that time.

It wasn’t ’til college, when I met my badass, Alice in Chains lovin’ roomie/BFF, that I got full exposure to all the gems of the early ’90s. Call it grunge if you will, but I personally feel that word’s a pretty lazy attempt to lump all the innovative styles of music that were being created into one. Rather, punk and rock music were doing a full 180, picking up pieces of the ’70s & ’80s and smashing them into something of their own, spawning hundreds of mind-boggling albums still relevant in conversation today.

But let’s not get too serious here – I promise to save that for another day, when I’ll surely be discussing the best albums of the ’90s, which include some of the finest soundtracks we’ll ever see and hear (The Crow, Singles, etc.). Instead, let’s focus on the songs. Sure, a few of these were major radio hits, and we’ve heard them a million times by now, but that doesn’t eliminate their quality from when they were first released. And don’t mistake my inclusion of a Weezer or Green Day song as reference to my love for those bands, because I can’t stand anything they did post their respective debuts. Blue Album and Dookie, though? Damn. Brilliance.

So relive your high school and college days with this playlist, and stop to compare the music of these last couple years with that of ’92-’95. Few periods of time have been quite like it for music development, and we should only hope to see another like it in the future.


End o’ the Year Playlist

It’s gotten to the point where my temptation for end of the year lists almost outweighs my longing for Christmas. Not because I ever agree with those of major publications (really, Rolling Stone? U2 and their invasive album is the best of the year?), but because these lists ramp up my argumentative nature and prepare me for the “no, this album’s better!” battles I’m sure to be having with friends and family this time of year.

That’s why I’m ecstatic to be releasing my very own Best Albums of 2014 list later this week, as well as today’s playlist, which features all the songs I couldn’t shake this year.

The irony is that a few of these songs were widely popular, and played almost to death on the radio. Usually that kind of music turns me off instantaneously, but the indie connotations and creativity of songs like Vance Joy’s “Riptide” and Milky Chance’s “Stolen Dance” made their popularity very okay by my standards.

There was also the impressive solo debut from Hamilton Leithauser, former frontman for The Walkmen, who showed with songs such as “Alexandra” his unique vocals will always sell albums, be they backed by a band or not.

A ton of good rap came out this year, and while nothing from Run The Jewels made my fave songs list (Spoiler alert! You’ll see them in my Best Of albums list later this week, of course.), some excellent others did. The combination of Future, Pusha T, Casino and Pharrell Williams (who is nicely out of his element on this track – this ain’t no Robin Thicke jam) for “Move That Dope” is genius, leaning heavy on old school formula with the injection of just the right amount of modernized beats.

DJ Snake and Lil Jon also crushed it with “Turn Down for What”, as did Big Sean and E-40 for “I Don’t Fuck With You”. The latter just makes me laugh, and I don’t see it as offensive, it’s just a guy stating his fed up feelings for his needy ex, loud and clear.

Maybe my #1 for the year was Angel Olsen’s “High Five”, though – girl released a terrific solo full-length debut with Burn Your Fire for No Witness, and don’t be surprised if she ends up here to stay.

There were also a slew of top drawer videos this year, but major props belong to Queen Bey and her fantastic linked-to-the-lyrics choreography of “7/11”. Enjoy:

So with that, congrats, 2014 – you left a lot of good tunes ringing in my ear. What did I forget, though? What other songs rocked your year, sweet blog followers?

11/23/14 Playlist

It is with this new playlist I regretfully inform I’ve decided to halt the releases of these mixes as “weekly” offerings. As much as I absolutely love sharing music with y’all, I’ve come to realize I don’t have the time to put as much effort into new playlists each week as I’d like to. Don’t worry, though – I’ll still be posting plenty of playlists month to month, so that you always have something lovely for your ears.

And so with today’s playlist I address the problem of songs being overpoweringly good, even if they are by someone you can’t stand. Which of course you can read more about in my latest opinion piece. 🙂

Featured this week are musicians I have zero problem hating, such as Edward Sharpe (his demeanor is just so very annoying to me) or Jack White, Michael Jackson or Axl Rose. There’s also the ones that have maybe one or two songs I can’t shake (Britney Spears, Bon Iver) no matter how much I dislike the artist, as well as the musicians we’ve all heard can be cocky and selfish when it comes to the industry, or their personal lives (Josh Homme, QOTSA; John Gourley, Portugal. The Man; Isaac Brock, Modest Mouse).

Also thrown in are those who just exhibit bizarre and aggravating behavior (Foxygen, Lana Del Rey), and the groups that were so damn good once, then sold out to create nothing but nonsense (Kings of Leon).

It’s not a question of these being guilty pleasure songs, but rather, feeling guilty about liking music from someone I don’t like. So I wanna know: who are some artists you’re not ashamed to like the music of, even if they’re personalities or attitudes are offensive or unbearable?

11/9/14 Playlist

Today’s playlist comes courtesy of my mood. It’s not the weather, or maybe it is, but something’s got me really appreciating female singers today. Many of them just know how to sing about love and heartache better than men, that’s all. There’s also quite a few, notably Erika Wennerstrom from Heartless Bastards, The Pack A.D.‘s Becky Black or Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, that know how to strum and sing the blues as well, if not better, than their male counterparts.

And composing these playlists the last few months has definitely revealed I like female musicians lots more than I thought. I guess I’d just foolishly convinced myself lady singers were for suckers, and that there were only about five respectable female guitarists and drummers out there. Such a biased, undignified and flat out dumb mentality…at least I can say my mind’s been finally, and firmly, changed on that, thanks to the extreme talent so many women have with their musical ways.

So enjoy this collection of badass ladies as they deliver a delicious blend of pop, R&B, punk and almost everything else. It’s already doing a great job of modifying my mood for the day.


11/2/14 Playlist

As the rain begins settling in for Portland, my taste in music starts turning toward the moodier and more darkly emphatic tunes out there. Black Mountain, Kurt Vile, Blitzen Trapper: it’s this kind of expressive stuff that accessorizes the grey, and often melancholic, clouds for me the best.

In fact, I mostly cherish this drizzly season, and harbor very little hatred or aversion to it, because it seems art is that much more beautiful under these conditions. Especially music – while the gloomy atmosphere may bring your spirits down, the solution is almost always somewhere in your favorite record.

And the songs this week are definitely from a few of mine. I appreciate the artists above for the way they selectively pepper meaning into their work, and back it with compelling and powerful music. It leaves me with appropriate weaponry in battling the wintertime blues.

10/21/14 Playlist

Y’all get a nice musical peek into my childhood with this week’s playlist. Being raised in a rural part of Nebraska by a father who was once a champion bull rider, and older siblings who were all involved in rodeo at some point or another, I was exposed to little more than country music until I was about 10. One of the first songs I can remember learning the lyrics to was George Strait’s “All My Ex’s Live In Texas”, and my family can attest I sang it all the damn time.

My dad is also the reason I even love music as much as I do, and it’s because he would have the radio or cassette player going throughout much of his work day, and I could tell at an early age he held a high respect for quality musicians. This resonated for me later, as I began to explore music for myself, and still does today, as I appreciate the greats he introduced me to.

This of course includes Hank Sr., Loretta Lynn, and all the other legendary singers on this list, but it’s my brothers and sister who turned me on to everything from Reba McEntire to Nitty Ditty Gritty Dirt Band in the ’80s. There was also a period of time when I thought Kentucky Headhunters were just about the coolest thing out there, but I was also 8, and my “Dumas Walker” lovin’ brother had just graduated high school. It’s amazing how much influence an older sibling can have on you.

I more or less stopped listening to country music around the time Shania Twain entered the picture with her fantastic debut single, “What Made You Say That”, because not long after, country started turning pop and/or ridiculous. I can barely tell you a thing about country music today, because I’ve completely tuned it out of my life thanks to this kind of nonsense. Zac Brown Band and Kacey Musgraves (check out her great video for “Follow Your Arrow” here) randomly found their way in thanks to friends who still stand by the genre, and for that I’m thankful. Their music leaves a tiny bit of hope for the rest of those fools that have forgotten country music means more than just a song about a girl in tight blue jeans.

1993 was the last time I even purchased a country album, and it was In Pieces, by Garth Brooks. That man was an absolute genius, and I’m not ashamed to admit I still know most of the words to his songs. Brooks is one of the few remaining artists out there who refuse to stream via sites such as Spotify, but just last month he did launch GhostTunes, a service that allows users to purchase material and listen to it through any of their devices.

He’s also made it next to impossible to find footage of his music videos, or performances, online, so here’s the best I could do for you…enjoy as Reba introduces Garth in this absolutely hilarious rendition of “Friends In Low Places” from an early ’90s music awards show:

Apologies to Trick Daddy

Last night it occurred to me I had forgotten to include one of the all time rap classics in my recent playlist, and I honestly felt I’d let Trick Daddy down by failing to feature him that week. His smash “I’m A Thug” is one of the best, for so many reasons, the biggest being its cheeky and hilarious approach to Trick’s gangsta lifestyle.

So instead of altering that original playlist, I’m gonna do Trick Daddy one better and leave this post focused on nothing but the beauty of “I’m A Thug”. Without further ado…

And yes, I’m heartbroken the original video version of this fantastic song is edited for lyrical content, but the explicit version is only available in this format. I still urge you to check that one out, though. 🙂

10/12/14 Playlist

Someone suggested I do a “last letter game” type of playlist today, and as I put it together I realized it could be the perfect way to honor UK music I’ve loved in the last 15 years. Sure, Australia’s Tame Impala and Canada’s Born Ruffians squeezed their way in, but their sounds fit nicely with the Brits, so that’s fine by me.

There’s also a lot of great dance music in there, which honors what The 2 Bears are doing, as well as some of my definite favorite bands of any genre, like The Heavy and The Kills. Somebody really needs to get word to both of those groups that a new album is imperative. Stat.