Some New Trend

List Wednesdays :: 4 Albums for Beating the Heat by Kevin Wilder

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It’s an insanely hot week here in Alabama, and whether I’m working, cleaning my apartment, or out in the sun, music seems to always help me ignore the heat. While old favorites like Sunflower and This Year’s Model will certainly remain in the mix this summer, here’s four recent fixations I’ve had on nonstop rotation (I’d list more, but the commentary’s already sure to get out of hand!):

bill-callahan-coverBill Callahan: Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle 

This album was released in April by the prolific artist who once went by Smog. Callahan’s an incredible lyricist, churning out simple yet interesting arrangements that complement his deadpan vocal delivery. If you’re unfamiliar with the guy, give his latest a few listens before tossing it aside. Then check out these rooftop videos of his current band playing a few old hits. “Love is the king of the beasts / and when it gets hungry it must kill to eat / yeah, love is the king of the beasts / a lion walking down city streets…” 

thumbnail.phpThemselves: theFREEhoudini

Recently-reunited anticon. collective duo Themselves had our wallets in mind when they decided to release this free mixtape a few weeks back. This is hip-hop in it’s most creative, fun state, off-the-cuff. The “posse record that never was” features guest spots from Slug of Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, cLOUDDEAD, Sole, Buck 65, and others. (Rap historians: ever hear about the time Doseone battled Eminem?). My only issue is, since it’s been released as a single mp3 file, I have to fast forward 34 minutes to hear Yoni Wolf rhyme about how he “ain’t rappin’ for money,” chicks, etc. The payoff is worth it. Download here.

200px-Blondie_-_Parallel_LinesBlondie: Parallel Lines 

Unlike the other albums on this list, this one’s not new, but well worth returning to. Parallel Lines is my all-time favorite Blondie album, but then again it might be everyone’s. I could listen to “Sunday Girl” or “Hanging on the Telephone” on repeat for days. And if given the chance to choose a rock and roll girlfriend from any era, I’d pick Debbie Harry in 1978 (unless of course I found time to learn French, where I’d most likely have to consider swapping her for a late-60s Françoise Hardy). “Ooh baby, I hear you spend nighttime / wrapped like candy in a blue, blue neon glow / Fade away and radiate…”


mewithoutYou: It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright 

I was a fan of these guys for years, then forgot about them for a minute. The new record took me full circle, with the variety of sounds so far removed from anything mwY has ever done. Aaron Weiss’s singing has improved considerably, becoming more accessible without forsaking his lovable quirks. Whoever had the genius idea of asking Daniel Smith (longtime frontman of the mighty Danielson Famile) to produce the album should be congratulated. mwY’s 4th is more upbeat than its predecessors (i.e. themes like seeing God “in every blade of grass,” and the feel-good organ-heavy opener “Every Thought a Thought of You”). If you attend one of their concerts, join in for a pre-show potluck, or bring along an instrument—they’re known for letting folks hop on stage to join in.

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