Hear Hear: Things have never been stranger
Ezra Koenig's medley, HAIM's new video, RIP Little Richard
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Vampire Weekend's music has been a constant source of joy and comfort for me, ever since downloading their debut EP in 2007. And while they were initially divisive — caricatured as prep-rock — in reality, their songs have always been full of the emotion, empathy, and wisdom they're known for today. On last year’s Father of the Bride that was especially true, as Ezra Koenig’s lyrics have been particularly prescient for this moment: “things have never been stranger, things are gonna stay strange” // “another night indoors” // "how long?" // “I don’t wanna live like this, but I don’t wanna die.” In honor of last week’s flower moon, and FOTB’s anniversary, Koenig played a mini-medley on the Tonight Show, weaving “Flower Moon” perfectly with “Big Blue” and “Stranger.” Just like "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" in 2007, it was exactly what I needed to hear right now.
RIP Little Richard. There’s nothing I can say about Little Richard that he didn’t say better himself, so here’s what to watch: this electric 1966 Live in Paris video. As Rembert Browne writes in his newsletter, “it’s 27 minutes of him, refusing to let his foot off the gas, appalled by the existence of a piano seat, showing the crowd why there is no close second.” RIP to the architect of rock and roll.
Nylon’s 18 most exciting new artists. A great list (and article) of new sounds and voices. Some I knew (the emotional soul of Baby Rose, sunny alt-rock of Snarls, and unconventional pop of Remi Wolf) but most were new to me. Victoria Monét’s “Dive” was a particular standout, an adventurous R&B track with a horns-and-strings breakdown reminiscent of Ariana Grande’s 2013 “Honeymoon Avenue” — turns out, Monét wrote that one too.
New playlists from Maggie Rogers and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Maggie’s taste is top-notch — her mix features rising favorites like Del Water Gap, Remi Wolf, and Bedouine, alongside new album standouts from Caribou and Waxahatchee. Lin-Manuel’s is “all over the place,” as he put it, with show tunes, Lil Wayne and Bad Bunny, a hypnotic track from Latin music stars iLe and Natalia Lafourcade, and one of the new Strokes gems. He also included the theatrical hip-hop of Chika, who was featured in a recent Hear Hear.
early 2010s coming of age indie pop bangers, from Vox’s Rebecca Jennings. The playlist pairs with Jennings’ piece on the rise of “online nostalgia for the early 2010s, the era of indie pop, American Apparel, and the tumblr aesthetic.” It’s a great throwback, mixing longstanding legends (Robyn, Frank, Lana) with a few flashes-in-the pan (Foster the People, Børns, Temper Trap).
HAIM, dancing again. Haim videos have low-key become the new OK Go videos? And I’m very cool with that. Paul Thomas Anderson didn’t direct this one (after tackling “Summer Girl” // “Now I’m In It” // “Hallelujah” // “The Steps”) but the socially-distanced dance moves were choreographed by Jake Schreier, known for his work on Francis and the Lights’ videos for “Friends” with Justin Vernon + Kanye and “May I Have This Dance” with Chance. It starts slow, but if you’re intrigued, watch until the end.
Ben Gibbard’s all-Beatles covers show. Loved hearing the Death Cab frontman take on this unreal setlist, pulling heavily from the Rubber Soul-Revolver era: I’m So Tired // For No One // I’m Happy Just To Dance With You // Here, There And Everywhere // I’m Only Sleeping // You Won’t See Me // I Will // I’m Looking Through You // In My Life
To read: “How Hip-Hop Royalty Found A New Home on Instagram Live.” Great piece from the NYT’s Jon Caramanica on one of the biggest music stories of the pandemic. “Rappers, producers, D.J.s and entrepreneurs have turned [IG live] into a nightclub, a telethon, a variety show, a history lesson, a talent show and much more.”
Moses Sumney’s playlists. Sumney, an eclectic, genreless singer-songwriter, tweeted out his Neosoul Searching mix, which led me to discover his other mixes including an ongoing list of 2020 Faves, playlists for night drives and driving in general, one for Stevie Wonder favorites and more. I made a wild discovery: in one, where it lists the timestamp of when he added each song, it says there’s a track he’ll be adding eight years from now.
Sumney’s music is futuristic but this is a whole new level of foresight. What is going on here. Things are gonna stay strange, indeed.
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