FAX MACHINE ANTHEMS
Hey, hi, go listen #5
Five new music tips from four different decades! "Hey, hi, go listen #5" is a real genre-hopping, era-hopping, mood-swinging beauty leading past vocal-free jazz, seventies punk from France, the son of Sting, a songwriter for songwriters and a German-American New Yorker who's music is harder to find on the worldwide web than a spinach leaf in a candy store. In summary: another goosebumps-inducing edition full of treats for your lucky little ears.
Dillon Warnek | now that it's all over (2021)
Recommended by Katie McTigue (Pacing)
Dillon Warnek is at the top of the list of People I Am Pissed Are Not Famous. His songs alternate between jokes that break your heart and heartbreak songs that turn out to be a big joke.
“If I die tonight, that’s alright” begins the album “Now That It’s All Over.” Then he proceeds to tell you all the things he needs you to do to make it look like he “died a good man” (from hiding all his drugs to throwing five different funerals so all his girlfriends can come).
His storytelling and imagery are unmatched. He doesn’t need flowery* language to pack a punch. “She’s probably picking flowers in some meadow” he speculates, while sitting in a dirty bar.
I would happily listen to this man playing alone into his iPhone, so the arrangements on this record are just the cherry on top of the cake. But they’re great. It made me realize that “funny songwriter person goes into room with professional Nashville-quality band, and they crank that shit out” is a thing I love (see Faye Webster). They are having a blast in there and you can feel it.
Dillon Warnek is a songwriter for songwriters (as his Spotify bio said at one point). I constantly find myself borrowing his character because it’s just so much fun to play. I think the world could use more artists that aren’t afraid to paint themself as a truly unlikeable person.
“I’ve made so many mistakes that I’ve lost count. But there’s one I’ll regret my whole life.” he croons on the last track, at the end of a rare ~2-minute stretch of sincerity. “I wish I would have married you, baby. You would have made a great ex-wife.”
I’m not just being dramatic when I say that I think he is one of the best and smartest songwriters of my lifetime. He currently has 205 monthly listeners on Spotify**.
*No pun intended, **What the fuck is wrong with you people
CHET BAKER | CHET (1959)
Recommended by Daniel Thomas
Since hearing Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, I’ve been searching for recordings with a similar vibe. Like many, this has taken me on the well-trodden path to Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, and John Coltrane, all of which are great in their own right but don’t quite reach the mix of melody and melancholy which Kind of Blue delivers so well.
Many believe that Kind of Blue was as much a Bill Evans record, or at least a strong collaboration between him and Miles, and if you listen to other Davis recordings around that time, there’s only Miles 1958, also featuring Evans, which comes close to capturing a Kind of Blue vibe. Evans himself has a range of great recordings from the mid-50s onwards but since almost all are trios, they miss the layers found on of Kind of Blue.
Whilst looking for records where Bill Evans plays in a larger group I discovered ‘Chet’ by Chet Baker. I was aware of Baker as a great trumpet player but had passed him by since many of his records feature singing, which I don’t dig in Jazz. Bill Evans plays piano on Chet (recorded 4 months before Kind of Blue) and when I heard the opening chords of Alone Together, it immediately evoked the vibe I’d been looking for. And there’s no singing.
The mood throughout this record is mellow and melancholy as Baker glides through a range of jazz ballads played at a calm, steady pace with masterful accompaniment. It’s probably unfair to say that Chet is just like Kind of Blue, and it did arrive slightly before, but it captures a similar feel and mood and is the sort of jazz I really enjoy listening to.
DOGS | the melodies massacre years (2023)
Recommended by Niek Hoogervorst (Add To Wantlist)
Most of my listening time goes to prowling for cool new releases to share with our readers on Add To Wantlist. This focus on the present comes at the cost of missing out on the great music that's been released throughout history. Records that absolutely need to be in my collection, but I currently don’t even know exists. That's why I value musical curators so much, people or labels whose tastes you can trust blindly. When they say “oh you like this new record, you should check out this band from Jakarta in the ‘70’s,” you immediately start digging, and you buy!
Put Brooklyn label Reminder Records on your list if you are looking for a trusted curator of lost powerpop, glam, bubblegum and (proto)punk gems of past era. This week Reminder released a LP that compiles the first two singles of Dogs (France). Originally released in the late ‘70s, the individual singles go for wallet emptying amounts on Discogs. It’s easy to see why. Dogs sound like an unhinged Eddie & The Hot Rods by the way of The Replacements. This is killer stuff and now, thanks to Reminder, much easier and less costly to add to your collection. Honestly, I’d buy this LP just to have Teenage Fever and You’re Gonna Loose Me in my collection, but the rest of these songs are pretty great as well.
Fiction plane | everything will never be ok (2003)
Recommended by Doug McCarthy (devəlmāˈker)
One of the best parts of going to shows is hearing a band you’ve never heard of and ending the show buying their record. This was Fiction Plane for me. Way back in 2003, I was blown away at what I heard when their opening song “Hate” started with a massive drum intro that lead into a beautiful guitar laden indie pop song. I was hooked right there and knew I had to listen to the whole record.
What I wasn’t expecting was some of the most emotional, almost self loathing lyrics I’d ever heard. These words put to a bed of electric indie goodness was a perfect combo for me. I’ve been a fan ever since and some of these songs really have helped me through some not so great times. It had never crossed my mind that the opening band at a Lifehouse show would still be one of my favorite bands 20 years later. I am extremely grateful to have found this introspective brand of indie rock.
I implore you to always check out the opening act. Always. You never know how they may affect your life.
Fun Fact: Lead singer of Fiction Plane is the son of musical legend, Sting. Who knew?
The self-titled debut by Kissyfur is the sound of twiddling a radio dial, catching chiming guitar patterns and pop earworms interspersed with fluttering whistle and whine, static and hum. And as a college radio DJ in 1993 equally enchanted by the harmonious crunch of the Breeders, the kitchen-sink psychedelia of Bongwater, and the droning folk-pop of Barbara Manning, I became instantly hooked. Plucked from the incoming pile at the station, this CD made it onto our playlist and into many of my sets. And I found myself evangelizing this band to friends and fellow DJs who, when prompted, would inevitably respond: "Kissyfur? Never heard of 'em."
Kissyfur was musical vision of one woman, German-American New Yorker Susanne Lewis. Her clear, sweet-yet-tough alto carries an undeniably catchy series of melodic threads through wobbling and wailing guitars, thudding drums and, on two songs, the keening zither of frequent collaborator Azalia Snail. Yet she also plays with her voice, distorting it with tape loops, speak-singing, even soberly narrating a two-part album closer about a woman's reckoning with the literal ghost of a dead ex-husband. In fact, the entire album is something of a song cycle about women's relationships with men, from the conflicted to the steady, the fractious to serene.
And, as album centerpiece "He's A Rock" repeats like a mantra, the narrator's man is "beautiful and serene" like the desert, though hopefully not a mirage. A chugging pop engine, the song powers along before pausing for a woozy, loping waltz of an interlude with two twanging guitars... then kick-starting right back into action. A mixtape staple, and worth the price of entry alone.