Cate Recommends: “What Keeps Me Loving You” by XYZ

I’ll admit it. Many moons ago I was a total headbanger. Jean jacket, acid wash jeans, and the only person who had bigger and better hair than me was my boyfriend. So what if he’s a drag queen for real now? That’s a whole other story. I was totally invested in Whitesnake and Ratt and Def Leppard too. My Walkman lived in my jacket pocket, and the bottom of my stone wash hobo bag contained a bunch of cassette tapes that I needed to survive, well, life. I also loved a whole string of hard rock bands that found themselves lost in the shadows of… Bon Jovi.

I accidentally revisited XYZ the other day, and in doing so, I stumbled onto one of the best power ballads that far too many people will not remember by name. “What Keeps Me Loving You” just drips with heat and emotion still, to this day. If Terry Ilous’ vocals don’t get you then I absolutely promise that Marc Diglio’s wailing guitar solo really will. I don’t care what the genre may be; when a song drips with emotion I’m a fan. If you can distract me enough to actually make me feel something, then you’ve won my respect and maybe even a tiny corner of my crispy little heart.

This song? Man, we have all been there.

Everytime I say goodbye
I can’t be free
Tell me why I never try
To let it be.”

Remember when you knew you weren’t in the best relationship but you couldn’t stay away? Remember how you went back for more when that little voice in the back of your head told you to keep it moving? Yeah, me too. So when Terry clearly feels these lyrics, so will you. When that guitar speaks, it’s going to hit a nerve somewhere inside of you too just as it did me.

The thing about songs like “What Keeps Me Loving You” is that they connect us all. That’s the calling card for a great song, one that will hold up over time, isn’t it? Grab your ear buds, close your eyes and give this a listen. It brings us all to a similar place and that is a beautiful thing.

(Song recommendation by Cate Meighan)

Brittany Recommends: “Zoot Suit Riot” by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies

The lead singer, Steve Perry, makes listening to the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies an experience. I can listen to all of their albums from start to finish. When I need something upbeat with a twisted story, they’re my go-to, but if I had to choose, Zoot Suit Riot is my favorite album of theirs. The album was made in 1997, which makes this year its 20th anniversary.

The album is named after its first song, Zoot Suit Riot, which is a historical event that happened in LA. The rest of the album is filled with stories/songs which reflect the persona of different men. In a sense, the album is a reflection of what men have become within our society. Beware though — this album isn’t for PG ears. This album dives into the nitty gritty of what nobody wants to read or even think about.

(Song recommendation by Brittany McCann)

Jon Recommends: “Big Jet Plane” by Tuka on Like A Version

I usually don’t recommend covers. I still don’t.

To me, a cover is a cover is a cover. Rightfully so, if the artist did it right, imitation is all it takes to make the song great….but why am I gonna listen? To hear the same song but in someone else’s voice? I’m a’ight.

But sometimes a cover is fucking beyond. GATE GATE PARAGATE, know what I mean?

Here is one such song. Tuka et al. took this song apart, burned the pieces to the ground and birthed their version from the ash like Fawkes the fucking phoenix.

I’m not saying Angus and Julia didn’t do it right. Respect. But I can’t remember a word of their song (other than the chorus).

Yet here I am, singin and groovin to every word in Tuka’s “cover”. We are talking strings, lyricism, Thelma Plum, Lana Del Ray references, and some type of 3D theramin Nintendo wii air drum? Live?

The actual fuck.

Also, if you aren’t turned on to Like a Version yet…flip that switch, baby.

Lazy ear tip: skip to 1:42-ish to get down to business.

(Song recommendation by Jon Johnson)

Sam Recommends: “L.A.” by Elliott Smith

                                                                 ❤

As much as I’ve always loved Elliott Smith, I could never understand the appreciation he expressed for Los Angeles in his appropriately named song, “L.A.”

I definitely never thought I’d end up here. In fact, I had always been dead set against living in this city.

I’d made the drive in from Riverside for countless concerts, readings, and trips to Amoeba, but the insufferable traffic paired with my nonexistent navigation skills always made it a trip rife with anxiety and frustration.

But when my husband got the job of his dreams in North Hollywood, and I found mine in Santa Monica, it became pretty clear that we were destined for a Los Angeles zip code.

Turns out, I love it here (in spite of the traffic, which remains insufferable, and seems to get worse each day.)

This gorgeously strange place, and the people working hard to make their dreams come true here, are an endless source of inspiration for me to push myself harder, and to do more.

My first year here has been one of my most creatively fulfilling; Memoir Mixtapes probably wouldn’t be a thing if I hadn’t moved here. And that would be a tragedy because Memoir Mixtapes is lyfe.

I’m also really happy that I can finally relate to a song I’ve loved since high school.

Feels good, man.

(Song recommendation by Samantha Lamph)

Kevin Recommends: “Shadow” by Chromatics

                            Isn’t it too dreamy?

You know that homesick feeling you get sometimes?

Not the normal one, simply wishing you were back home, but the other one. The one that has you pining for a place you’re not entirely sure you’ve ever been to, or whether it even exists. A yearning so strong that you get a little choked up and teary when you feel it.

That’s what this song makes me feel. It anchors me in the present, yet I feel like I’m floating through someone else’s distant dream.

My first time hearing this track came when I was watching Twin Peaks: The Return; this song closed out the two-part opener of the season. It was the perfect choice to cap off a strange but wonderful two episodes of television. It’s also the perfect choice for listening to when you’re driving along a highway at midnight on a moonless night, with your way forward lit only by the headlights of your black Cadillac and the stars in the sky.

Come on, give it a listen. Sway with me.

Let’s go back to a place we’ve never been.

(Song recommendation by Kevin D. Woodall)

Seigar Recommends: “Ultralight Beam” by Kanye West (ft. Chance the Rapper, The Dream, Kelly Price, and Kirk Franklin)

Hey! This is Seigar (the photographer) again, and I’ve made my way back to Memoir Mixtapes to bring you the gospel from Mister Kanye West. He brought all the angels around him on the Earth to share this heavenly anthem with us. West is probably an ego man, but he has what is needed to produce an excellent track, rated 10. The perfect composition…

This song is my favorite from 2016. Kanye pushes religion, society’s problems, stardom, and himself into the lyrics. He played the same cards that Madonna did decades ago in “Like a Prayer.” Many people are involved, but it is Chance The Rapper who tries to touch the sky too: “this is my part, nobody else speak”, he repeats over and over.

West used silent pauses like James Blake, presented the gospel like Madonna, and exploded with soul like Michael Kiwanuka. And he did it all in just five minutes.

God bless you Kanye.

Here I leave you my full playlist of my fave songs of 2016. https://open.spotify.com/user/jseigar/playlist/6rrAgHQAdNXP6YQLF1JtOR

(Song recommendation by Seigar)

Dale Recommends: “Tulsa Queen” by Emmylou Harris

I love Emmylou Harris for so many reasons. She is a great picker of songs, blessed with the voice of an angel. She always chose to be surrounded by the best musicians from Albert Lee to Ricky Skaggs.

Of course, we owe her discovery to Gram Parsons, the sort of mythical musical creature that, if you haven’t discovered him, go forth and sin no more. The album where this song first appears, Luxury Liner, is named for a Parsons song. This beauty was written by Emmylou and Rodney Crowell and exudes sadness and longing and all the qualities so much we have lost.

I got to interview Emmylou once, in 1992. I told my mom before going that if Emmylou wanted me to go on tour with her and be her lover, I was going to do it. My mom replied, “As long as she pays for your college, I don’t care.”

Enjoy, and try your best not to fall in love with Emmylou.

Dale Wiley is an author of three novels: The Intern, Sabotage and Southern Gothic. He is a podcaster, working on the Soutee podcast about a larger than life friend who lived a one of a kind life that included horses, parties, law, prison and maybe even a murder. He is working on a TV project called The East Side, and also started the roots rock record label Slewfoot Records.

Kevin Recommends: “Opus No. 1“ by Tim Carleton and Darrick Deel

A dreamy journey on an opalescent sea.

Hey there.

You seem tense.

You feeling stressed out? Beaten down? Kind of broken?

Why don’t you stop and listen to this hold-music?

Why yes, I am serious.

If you have been put on hold at any point in your life there’s a decent chance you might be familiar with this song. It was written by a couple friends in high school, one of whom went on to install it as the default hold music for all Cisco IP phones. If you want more details on the story behind that bit of trivia, there’s an abundance of links at the bottom of the below-referenced video which will provide you with that information, but for now let’s not worry about that, shall we?

You’re tense and stressed and broken and worn out. Let’s just go ahead and put all that on hold. Time has no more meaning for you.

It’s time for you to ascend. Your crystalline ship awaits. The stars blanket your vision as you slip into a state of peaceful stasis.

Your dreams are the ultimate destination.

(Song recommendation by Kevin D. Woodall)

Jon Recommends: “Diddy Bop” by Noname

I thought rap was doomed. In many ways it is (and always was).

The mid-late 2000 to early 2k1-whatever era was a shit show in many ways, lets be real. If I wear baggy shin-length jorts ever again, jeebus take the wheel I’ve given up.

Music-wise, what the hell was going on? It felt like when old Kanye died, he took the industry with him. We started being force fed top 40 kidz-bop passed off as rap every other day, and taste was becoming a four letter word faster than you can say, “You are just being a hater, Jon.”

Nah, son. I just think music should actually mean sumn, feel me? As much “fun” as repeating the mantra “We’re gonna die young” over and over is, I’d much prefer the razzle-dazzle of some mind candy floating from the tongues of giants.

People like Chance, Cole, and Kendrick constantly breathe life into the genre of course, but rappers like Noname are making space I never knew existed in the game.

Listen and tell me I’m wrong, I double-dog dareya.

(Song recommendation by Jon Johnson)

Dale Recommends: “Dimming of the Day” by Richard and Linda Thompson

Any Richard and Linda Thompson is like a Japanese lantern, flying away into the dusk; a gentle anomaly, delicate and intricate. I learned about the couple through Rolling Stone and their constant praise, but this was a time so distant it seems impossible to fathom (the early 90s), and while I was on the constant lookout for their albums, I could not find them. The first time I got to touch their beautiful music was at an outdoor concert in early October of 1990. It was getting chilly, and my girlfriend had dumped me earlier that day. I was standing with my friend Liz, and my favorite college band, Three Merry Widows, played “Dimming of the Day”.

Three Merry Widows were a transcendent band on the TVT label, who got screwed by their record label (imagine that). I got to see them often during my college years, and never missed a chance. I went up and asked the magnificent singer Alice Spencer (who now sings with Shinyribs, formerly of The Gourds, and one of the few singers I’ve ever met who could have a decent chance of covering Linda without seeming slight and silly) about the song. She told me where it came from; as my memory serves, I believe it had been introduced to her by her former boyfriend Jeff Tweedy, then of Uncle Tupelo, who would later go on to form a little band called Wilco.

If there were any justice in the world, there would be forty years of Richard and Linda records, lasting peace, and better world leaders. As it is, I’ll take watching my Japanese lanterns and English folk duos glide into the soft evening air, and enjoy my small role in a never-ending of loving music and life.

Dale Wiley is an author of three novels: The Intern, Sabotage and Southern Gothic. He is a podcaster, working on the Soutee podcast about a larger than life friend who lived a one of a kind life that included horses, parties, law, prison and maybe even a murder. He is working on a TV project called The East Side, and also started the roots rock record label Slewfoot Records.