Welcome to Shuffled Selections, your weekly mini-mixtape of whatever I’m listening to this week! Because I adore nothing more than exploring all the music and sharing it with every person I can, this is my way to cover as much ground as possible in between life and bigger reviews. Enjoy!
Ryan Adams – “Shiver and Shake”
Ryan Adams is, and always will be, the king of the heartbreak. Even when he was happily married, he was able to dig deep into the pain of attachment and astutely reflect on the tenuousness of love. Now that he’s divorced, it’s especially hard not to read everything he writes as all the more painfully personal and, for that, all the more viscerally impressive. Employing the same sort of distortion drenched 80’s Bruce/Young-esque rock n’ roll that he brought to the unbelievably phenomenal 1989 cover album, Adam’s Prisoner finds all his meandering exploration since his 1984 “hardcore” EP series paying off to magnificent effect. With not a single bit of fat on the whole record, this feels like Adams at his most honed in and, although I said previously I wouldn’t mind if Taylor Swift just wrote all of his records from now on, this is a great reminder of how talented and earnest an artist he really is.
Animal Collective – “Jimmy Mack”
I have found that the best covers come out of nowhere – think mewithoutYou’s “In Bloom” or Sturgill Simpson’s “The Promise,” you’d never think to ask for them but your life sure is better with them in it. Enter: Animal Collective covering Martha and the Vandellas 60’s hit “Jimmy Mack.” Why? Honestly, I want to know – why did this happen? Not complaining, far from it, the track is fantastic but wow – out of the blue. This track appears on AC’s newest EP The Painters that comes out of the recording sessions for their recent release– and in my opinion, minor masterpiece – Painting With. Frantic, heart racing drum beats and endlessly danceable grooves, Animal Collective remain on their recent high and it is a joy. But seriously tho, did you know your life was missing a psychedelic electro dance version of “Jimmy Mack”?
Lowland Hum – “Palm Lines”
I don’t know about where you’re at but, here in Texas, Spring has been inching its way into winter for some time so you might not be as ready for some good warm weather rustic folk as I am. But, when you are, check out the record Thin by husband and wife duo Lowland Hum. Although many might feel compelled to compare them to the hushed tunes of a Jessca Hoop or a Horsefeathers, I, almost immediately and excitingly, heard spiritual kinship with the incredible Ida. Just like those giants of contemplative folk, Lowland Hum deal in airy harmony and spiritual themes meant to invoke subtle presence rather than simply preaching. This album is a lovely and pure joy through and through and, if you’re like me, will fit nicely with some aimless warm weather wandering.
Say Anything – “Goshua”
Look, I get that I listen to a lot of music and some is just bound to slip by me but how in the hell does a new release from a favorite artist, featuring members of other bands I adore, go unnoticed a whole year? Unbelievable but, at least, better late than never. Max Bemis, aka Say Anything, has long been hailed as emo royalty but, really, he’s always been less ‘woe is me’ and more ‘woe is us,’ decrying social constructions rather than pining for romantic conventions. Famously known as an acerbic, quick witted lyricist, his music might’ve mostly been straight forward 00’s emo-rock much of his career but, ever since 2014’s wildly erratic Hebrews¸ Bemis has been pushing himself musically and it’s paid off here with some of the most interesting work he’s ever produced. With friends from At The Drive In, Blood Brothers, and Mutemath in tow, I Think It Is finds Bemis at a whole new level musically and, while it’s an absolute blast, his lyrics still take center stage. One of the most challenging and, quite frankly, confrontational Christian voices out there, Bemis’ constant self-doubt and disgust for humanity’s frivolity will almost certainly turn many off but, if you’re willing to wrestle with him, there’s quite a reward with a record this good.
Passion Pit – “Hey K”
We have no idea what Michael Angelakos is up to here but it appears to be called Tremendous Sea of Love. After releasing the endlessly endearing Christmas concept album Merry Christmas, Mr. Fields under his own name, I guess we weren’t expecting a full length Passion Pit record right around the corner but that kind of seems like what we’re getting. After joining in with the concerned chorus of compassionate citizens rallying against our current administrative regime, Angelakos began releasing songs daily with themes of love, self-care, and community awareness, all hashtagged #seaoflove. Now, whether this is an upcoming album or just a mixtape for the current landscape, we don’t know – all we know is that we’re being offered little bursts of pure joy as only Passion Pit is capable of. And, let’s be honest, any bit of joy is more than welcomed.