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.

(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.

Cate Recommends: “Let Me Be The One” by Exposé

I really love how music has the ability to drag me back in time. You know, back to when I truly believed that my life was so complicated because I had no idea how to fit shopping in between high school and slinging fish at a local fast food joint. Back to when radio stations alternated between club songs and being a slice of headbanger heaven. Twitter has made Freestyle Friday a new (old) thing and I couldn’t possibly be more grateful.

My new Friday morning private work dance party begins with “Let Me Be The One” by Exposé and it snowballs with all sorts of synthie goodness from that point on. Lyrical geniuses they are not, but Latin freestyle has always been about the music and harmonies, so I can forgive that. I can be having THE week from hell and a minute into this song all is temporarily forgotten. I’m sixteen again and singing along with Gioia Bruno while dancing in my chair. I would put money on the notion that no one has ever slit their wrists while listening to an Exposé song. It’s just not possible.

I remember as a teenager loving the idea that being a grown up meant that my weekends would be fair-game for whatever type of debauchery I decided to involve myself in. A million years later I now totally get that adulting actually means working 2 jobs, juggling 3 kids, 1 husband and a bunch of bills. Hell, forget the shenanigans, crawling into bed at 9pm kind of sounds like a far off dream.

But Exposé’s “Let Me Be The One”? That takes me back to when I was sure I’d be partying every weekend until I died. It’s just pure fun, which is what at least one part of our adult life really should be about, don’t you think? Take a listen. I double dare you NOT to dance!

(Song recommendation by Cate Meighan)

Sam Recommends: “The Moment” by Tame Impala

The release of Tame Impala’s Currents in July 2015 coincided with a pretty defining moment in my life.

Andy and I were just days away from a big (for us) move from our hometown in the Inland Empire to San Diego, putting a two hour drive between us and most of our friends and family.

This move was my idea, and I pushed hard for it. And by that I mean that I wasn’t taking no for an answer.

I had been unhappy with my various teaching jobs, the brutal commutes between three campuses, and the ever-present sense that I was doing nothing of consequence with my life. A San Diego address had always been an end goal, and, within a month, I was able to line up two new teaching jobs to justify the hasty relocation.

A week before the move, I made the drive from Riverside to San Diego to fill out some final paperwork for our new apartment. I was listening to Currents for the second or third time, and it wasn’t until “The Moment” came on as I was passing through Escondido that reality started to sink in.

This move was actually happening, and I had no way of knowing how it would all work out, or if I would end up regretting it. It was a moment of pure anxiety bordering on terror. But it was already too late to turn back, and I took a strange sense of comfort from that fact. And as the song continued on, I realized that psychedelic genius Kevin Parker was right: I couldn’t just spend my whole lifetime wondering. I’d have to trust in the moment and in myself.

That year ended up being one of the most challenging of our respective lives. But it was also one of the most productive and rewarding. We ended up leaving San Diego for Los Angeles exactly a year later, but we left better than we came.

(song recommendation by Samantha Lamph)

PS I “borrowed” the awesome illustration in the header from:

Jon Recommends: “Vapour” by Vancouver Sleep Clinic

                                                  Get it, Tim.

It’s only a matter of time before we enter the ethereal.

Great art is both visceral and intellectual; tearing at the lines we use to define ourselves and pooling our entrails into a void of unspeakable certainty.

Music, as one of the oldest art forms, has this unique tie to the primordial. It crosses hemispheres in the brain and combines our need for order with our thirst for chaos. And its reach is impressive.

Think of an African drum beat, and tell me your hips don’t move just a little bit. The power of your favorite angsty punk song to bring back the anger you felt at not belonging (yet kinda not wanting to). That slightly off-key emo voice and how it tugs at the pangs of early unrequited love.

If music doesn’t take you somewhere, is it really music?

The emotional salmon that I am, swimming upstream against a current of uncertainty and expectation, dreamy music lightens the load and adds some helium to the lungs; making it juuust a little bit easier to get to those calm waters up ahead.

Enter Tim and Vancouver Sleep Clinic.

(Song recommendation by Jon Johnson)