Kevin Recommends: “Total Eclipse” by Klaus Nomi

 

he is my favorite german vaudevillian retro love robot 

When I first discovered Klaus Nomi in my early 20s (via his associations with Bowie) he blew my mind wide-fucking open. I hadn’t heard anything quite like him. Vaudeville meets Metropolis meets goth dance party? And holy shit, that voice — was that actually his real voice?? Un-fucking-real!

Klaus Nomi rules.

Come. Get vintage-future-gothic with me and the homey Klaus Nomi. Let his countertenor trill send chills down your spine, my dudes.

(Song recommendation by Kevin D. Woodall)

Seigar Recommends: “Cerrada” by Ladilla Rusa

Seigar, the photographer, is back.

Introducing here another Spanish act. This time I’m bringing you Ladilla Rusa, a couple of clever journalists who decided to sing and show their wittiness with their social criticism. Víctor Fernández and Tania Lozano use the same techno sound that everyone loves dancing to at discos right now in Spain, but they added some straight and simple lyrics/messages about social issues. It’s easy to sing and identify with, too.

After their first rumba hit “Macaulay Culkin”, “Cerrada” discusses a very serious matter treated with irony. It becomes a feminist disco anthem with a clear and direct message: “open to champagne, p*ssy closed, no is no, yes is yes”. It may seem like a silly song, but it isn’t. It tells society that women are the ones who decide what they want to do. This music could fit into the soundtracks of an early Almodóvar, it reminds me to his song “Suck it to me”.

Enjoy Cerrada, and try to remember the Spanish words:

“no es no, sí es sí, cerrada de amor, abierta al champagne, cerrada de p*ssy.”

(Song recommendation by Seigar)

Sam Recommends: “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads

Have you ever been happy and sad at the same time, or loved someone so much it made you want to cry?

I remember the very first time I felt that way.

I was pretty young, no older than 6, and my mom was tucking me in. She expressed this exact sentiment, saying that she loved my sister and I so much that sometimes she cried at night just thinking about it, or worrying about us, or thinking about us growing up. I realized that’s how I felt about her, too.

That’s the feeling I’m reminded of when I listen to “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody).”

Here’s to life’s ambivalent moments, to love so deep that it leaves us feeling vulnerable to life’s whims, and to my momma ❤

(Song recommendation by Samantha Lamph/Len)

Jon Recommends: “Face Like Thunder” by The Japanese House

I’m only doing this so I can feel like I’m connecting to something.

Anything.

It’s been three days and it is still here, looking out at me from behind my own eyes. If I truly controlled my breath I would’ve been dead yesterday.

Luckily, whatever it is has taken hold of a diaphragm I thought was my own to keep my breath in time with its steps.

Nothing comes to mind right now, so sorry there’s nothing much to say. Just a cycle. A damned perfectly imperfect circle.

Some controller a million miles away tapping at a soundpad and making my muscles twitch.

And then she calls. Well, she used to call. Soft at first, inviting even. Now she screams in bricks and lost lovers I never had. She drowns everything else out and all that is left is this hollow ringing in my ears (even though I chopped them off hours ago).

But at least I’m out, you know?

I’m fine. I’ll be fine.

You know what? Yeah. Just one more time, just scratch the itch. Just a taste is all. It won’t get me this time.

See, not so bad.

Fifteen seconds. Perfectly normal, regular human. Minus ears but regular all the same. I can do this.

Thirty seconds is nice, I can feel it, but it won’t win. I’ve got this.

Forty-five seconds. See I don’t know what I was worried about this song isn’t even that catch–

(Song recommendation by Jon Johnson)

Cory Recommends: “Spectrox” by The Sevateem

I learned a new word: Folksonomy. It’s defined as a user-generated taxonomy. I’ve got a music related folksonomy I want to share with you: A perfect album.

A perfect album is one in which every song is good. You wouldn’t skip a single track no matter what order they came up in. For me, it’s a surprisingly small number of albums that land in this category, but a new member to the class has been added! The Caves by The Sevateem.

I’ve listened to this album six times (now seven) in the two days I’ve owned it. Knowing that, and the classification of this album in my own folksonomy, please consider this recommendation as a starting point for further research, not only about the songs, but about the clever concept of the album too.

The first song on the album that I found myself singing along to was “Spectrox”. It is a delicious electro-pop ditty that flows and bops for three and a half minutes with a four on the floor beat and a dreamy melody on top. The vocals are soft and accessible, but that is a piece of misdirection as you listen to their message. Don’t let the seeming simplicity of the song fool you.

(Song recommendation by Cory Funk)

Tom Recommends: “Black Cab” by Jens Lekman

“This guy is crazy,” my friend declared as he turned up the volume on the first Jens Lekman song I ever heard. The song was Black Cab and I was too embarrassed to admit it at the time, but it was one of the most sane things I’d ever heard in my life: a hilarious but heartrending anthem for anyone who leaves the party full of self-recrimination, mentally replaying countless social exchanges and analyzing them to death. It was equal parts pop and ballad, humor and melancholy, absurdity and poetry. But most of all, it was just so gobsmackingly human. Listening to this song was like making an adult friend with a sweet, sensitive, smart person whose punch lines are so organic he doesn’t even watch for the laughter to follow.

The canon of Lekman’s work includes songs about such things as:

  • the exquisite beauty of being held by a loved one after slicing his fingertip off, passing out, and winding up in the emergency room
  •  trying to meet Kirsten Dunst when she was shooting Melancholia in Gothenburg, Sweden
  • hoping that he’ll be wearing cowboy boots in his next dream, shoes he hopes will give him the swagger he needs to move on from a long since failed relationship
  • acting as a friend’s boyfriend to help her hide the fact that she’s gay from her family

I mean, who wouldn’t want to be adult friends with this guy?

And what more could you ask of an artist? Jens Lekman has built his own poetics. And Black Cab is that first tale he tells you when you’re both checking your respective mailboxes just long enough to strike up your first conversation.

(Song recommendation by Tom Stern)

Kevin Recommends: “Santeria” by Sublime

When I was growing up, more often than not the people you went to school with only listened to one genre of music. The kids my age had very specific tastes, and they were passionate about them; so passionate that it was rare for people to cross over into other genres. The kids stuck to their music, and defined themselves by social group according to genre.

In defiance of this siloed approach to social structure, however, there was one band whose sound served as a great unifier throughout not only my schools, but throughout all of southern California:

Sublime.

It didn’t matter who you were, or what crews you rolled with — chances were pretty god damn good you liked Sublime. If you found yourself sitting next to someone you’d never talk to otherwise, you could at least talk about how good Sublime was, and it would always go something a little like, “Duuuude you like Sublime? Man, ‘Santeria’ is my shit!!”

One of my favorite personal examples of this phenomenon happened when I was 18, delivering a pizza. I was taking a shortcut through the golf course in Indian Hills. It was a swelteringly hot day, probably around 105 F/40 C, so I had all my windows down (because running AC made my shitty Hyundai Elantra run even shittier). The radio had just rolled up “Santeria,” and I was pumping it almost as loud as my busted speakers could take.

As I was driving along through the golf course, I saw three dudes sitting on the green, all with tallboys. These dudes looked mean — each ripped as fuck with shaved heads, tank tops, and huge baggy Dickies, and two of them were sporting cuts and bruises on their faces. These were the type of dudes I’d generally steer clear of, after years of bullying and abuse at the hands of guys just like these. I subconsciously tensed up as I approached.

They were minding their business when, as if struck by some hidden signal, they stopped what they were doing and began bobbing their heads in unison; bobbing in unison to the bass of the song blasting out my windows.

As I got closer, the three dudes all raised their tallboys to me in a salute. I slowed down as I approached, threw up a peace sign, and cranked the music even louder.

They cheered and took huge swigs of their beers.

And I drove off to finish my delivery, leaving them bobbing in my wake.

***

For today’s recommendation, I invite you to put aside whatever your preferred genre is in the name of harmony and unison. Let’s take a trip to southern California.

Bob with me.

(Song recommendation by Kevin D. Woodall)

Nicole Recommends: “The Underdog” by Spoon

When I hear this song, I picture billboards and palm trees.

If you’ve never seen the Paul Rudd/Jason Segel film I Love You, Man—to which I say: what’s wrong with you?!—then that might seem odd. I mean, the billboards part would definitely seem odd. Who hears a song and thinks about billboards?

Palm trees could be reasonable on its own. Even though there’s not one mention of them in the lyrics, there’s an upbeat, almost beachy quality to this indie rock tune that would inspire anyone to conjure up images of sunshine and green things and smiles.

But for me, this song is irrevocably tied to Paul Rudd, driving down the street in (what I believe to be) Los Angeles at the beginning of the movie and watching groups of men bonding. Then, of course, later in the movie, he drives down that same street, astonished to find that Jason Segel has launched an insane(ly hilarious) billboard series to help promote Rudd’s character’s realty skills. An entirely different song is playing in this scene, but “The Underdog” overrides it in my mind.

It’s THE I Love You, Man song to me.

(Imagine how jarring it was for me to hear this song when it appeared in Spider-Man: Homecoming last year! The song fits, though—young Peter is, in fact, an underdog because he wants so desperately to be an Avenger and he feels he’s not being taken seriously. Excellent song choice, movie people.)

(Song recommendation by N. Alysha Lewis)

Seigar Recommends: “In My View” by Young Fathers

Seigar, the photographer, is back.

Some years ago, I enjoyed a concert by Young Fathers at the FIB Festival, in Benicassim, Spain. They were great. It was on a Thursday, but probably today they would sing on a Saturday. They are getting bigger. Their tribal sounds are known now by a wider audience. “In My View” is an irresistible tune, both catchy and tense. The lyrics — half-sung and half-spoken — keep the same quirk touch as the percussion and electronic sounds behind.

This Mercury Prize winning rap trio from Edinburgh does not produce mainstream music, but this track I’m bringing you today is probably their catchiest track so far, even more than “Lord,” their first single. “In My View” holds their sharp essence, but adds some inspired dance hall beats. Anthony Fantano defined the track as “easily one of the most haunting ballads the group has ever drawn up, with some pretty intriguing lyrics about what feels like, I dunno, love, attraction, sex, money….”, words which only help my invitation for you to listen.

Enjoy one of the best songs of 2018 so far…

(Song recommendation by Seigar)