By Spencer. Last week, we gave you our picks for some of music’s best early summer releases. And staying with the spirit of the season, they were heavy on pop, hip-hop, upbeat rock—you know, fun stuff. This week, we’re back with a monster-sized mix for you, and we’re keeping with that vibe. So enjoy this sampling of synthpop from the likes of Niki & The Dove, Christine And The Queens, Ladyhawke, and Blood Orange; upbeat blues from Margaret Glaspy and Julie Rhodes; breezy acoustic music from Roo Panes, Whitney, Sarah Jarosz, and The Lumineers; and of course, a few random curveballs. You know you want it. Continue reading
By Antony & Spencer. This weekend, three of our S&N contributors got to catch up in person for the first time in years. The occasion was our editor Spencer’s very first trip to California. (Editor’s Note: Yes, I’m writing about myself in the third person, for reasons that will be obvious later). Spencer is very much aware that it is inexcusable for this to have taken so long, especially now that the trip is over and he’s discovered just how much he loves the West Coast lifestyle. After a multi-day tour of Los Angeles that was (unsurprisingly) heavy on Hollywood history, Spencer’s trip gave him the chance to reunite with longtime friends and S&N contributors Mark and Antony over very large beers at San Diego’s Biergarten and Modern Times, where we talked music, dating, parenthood, tacos, and a whole lot more. And in honor of the trip, Antony compiled a little travel music for Spencer—who couldn’t pass up on sharing with the rest of you. (As you can see, these joint postings cause a lot of awkward drafting issues. Don’t complain, you’re getting free music). Continue reading
By Spencer. A recent article in GQ Magazine profiled three country artists who are shaking up the Nashville establishment: Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, and Sturgill Simpson. We’ve raved about all three on S&N, but the truth is, they’re just the tip of the spear. There are dozens of other songwriters out there defying the cheap conventions of Nashville country. You know what I’m taking about—hokey, jokey, manufactured pop songs about sexy tractors and beer-drinking horses, dressed up in a little steel guitar and just enough contrived twang to appeal to the goatee-wearing NASCAR crowd. It’s this brand of “bro country” that has given the genre a bad name among music lovers, turning a once-thriving strain of quintessentially American art into a punchline (at least outside of the South).
Then came Chris Stapleton, who struck a major blow last year when his album, Traveller, came out of nowhere to sweep the 2015 Country Music Awards—taking down more established (and embarrassing) mainstays like Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, and Jason Aldean along the way. It was hailed as a possible turning point for country music after years of decline. Meanwhile, Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell have each enjoyed adulation even among the indie rock press for recent albums that re-embraced a truer songwriting and a more faithful devotion to vintage country sounds. Continue reading
By Antony. So I wrote a rant about the evils of nostalgia and then deleted it. For me, there’s nothing worse than finding myself in a public place and realizing that they’re playing the 90s Nostalgia Channel—or whatever Sirius XM, Beats, or Spotify call their versions. They cater to the walking dead. Those who stopped growing two decades ago. If your music taste has stagnated, I consider that a moral failure. Continue reading
By Spencer. There’s a somewhat pedestrian album by British one-hit-wonders Keane called Hopes And Fears. And while compiling the tracks for this latest edition of The Mixologist, it occurred to me that Keane got their album title completely backwards. As these eleven songs exploring all the unexpected little complications of love attest, fears often come ahead of hopes. Sure, there are magic hours and maybe even thoughts of diamonds right from the start. But as Miya Folick says, “nothing ever ends the way you thought it would when you started.” And there are all those annoying little questions that start to intrude. Will this end in heartbreak? Is she still afraid of the ghosts of her past? Is he only telling me what I want to hear? Will I end up just another cautionary tale? Is it just dumb to put yourself out there like this? How much is too much? Continue reading
By The S&N Staff. As part of our year-end festivities at S&N, we’ve gotten together and voted on our favorite individual tracks of the year. As with all things, democracy yielded a diversity of opinions! And yet after a couple of rounds of balloting, we all found ourselves gravitating toward the same songs. So check out our Spotify playlist, featuring favorite tracks from Alabama Shakes, Kendrick Lamar, Leon Bridges, Houndmouth, Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment, Courtney Barnett, Jason Isbell, Hop Along, Beach Slang, and plenty more. Special thanks to our friend Hendricks for putting this playlist together. Enjoy, and happy holidays! Continue reading
By Spencer. I don’t profess to be an expert on French music by any means. But with the events of Friday night, I imagine a lot of us who have visited or lived in Paris can’t help but feel the need for a moment of reflection. The motto of our predecessor site, After The Radio, was “music softens walls”—which is something I’d like to believe now more than ever. And though it seems naive to think that music could ever truly “heal” in the sense that the people of Paris need in these particular days, maybe at least it can soften the pain, if not the walls that lead to tragedies like this. So if you’re in need of a little softening, I hope you’ll take solace in this playlist, featuring landmark French artists like Edith Piaf, Django Reinhardt, Françoise Hardy, Claude Debussy, Daft Punk, Phoenix, and of course the father-and-daughter pair of Serge and Charlotte Gainsbourg—along with a few tributes to the City of Lights from closer to home. And of course we had to include a little parting shot from a certain band whose music will now forever be an act of defiance to those who would try to drag us down into the darkness with them. Liberté, égalité, fraternité, solidarité…. Continue reading