This week’s playlist:
“Reflektor” & “Born at the Right Time” & “Radiohead”
The epic title track to Arcade Fire’s epic, career-shifting album closes with bongos, congas and other drums, which reminded me of many of the tracks from Paul Simon’s 1990 album The Rhythm of the Saints (in my mind, a better album than its companion and predecessor Graceland). The squeeze-box in “Born at the Right at the Time” hinted toward the accordion in “Radiohead,” from Talking Head’s under-appreciated True Stories, from David Byrne’s movie (starring John Goodman) of the same name.
“Idioteque” & “After the Disco”
I kid myself that the band Radiohead named themselves after the Talking Heads song – it’s a fun delusion, so I’m going to keep believing it. “After the Disco” seemed apropos as a follow-up to “Idioteque” – even if they’re similar only in song title association. (Incidentally, I was a bit disappointed in this, Broken Bells’ sophomore effort, although I suppose it would have been tough for anything to adequately follow-up that excellent 2010 debut.)
“I Wasn’t Born to Follow”
At this point, a beautiful, pared-down Beth Orton tune seemed the perfect complement to all these men and their layers of instruments and synthesizers.
“Growin’ Up” & “An Ocean in Between the Waves” & “Reptile”
More than one review of The War on Drugs’ new album Lost in the Dream (my favorite album of 2014 so far) compares it to early ’80s Bruce Springsteen, and I supposed I can see the connection, but I also hear more obscure ’80s acts in the production – like The Church. I’m not a huge fan of that Springsteen era, so I chose something from his first album, still one of his best, in my opinion. And “Reptile” is one of the hits from Starfish, but most of the songs on that album these days could qualify as hits – it’s an album that has held up well after all these years.
“Rattlesnake” & “Logic of Color”
“Rattlesnake” seemed like the obvious follow-up to “Reptile.” And since I played a track from my favorite album of this year, I thought I should play the final track from my second-favorite album of this year. Wye Oak’s Shriek is a stellar album, and all those curmudgeons who are bemoaning the loss of Jenn Wasner’s guitar-heavy sound need to take a better listen to how deftly the synth and keyboard complement her voice and Wye Oak’s sound in general. Artists must grow: the weight of stagnation is too great.