Five Songs You Need to Hear (In The Name Of Love)

Look at that, it’s apparently been a whole month since our last installment of “Five Song You Need to Hear.” Time really flies when you’ve become unstuck in time. Good thing I’ve got a calendar to help anchor myself in my unreal reality. The fact that we’ve got freeze warnings in effect over Mother’s Day weekend only adds to the sense that we’re living in some twisted liminal space where nothing is quite like it should be. Oh wait. This is Iowa. Awful weather is actually normal here. Phew! There’s something you can count on to be consistent, no matter what else may come. Carry on.

As always, the premise here is that these songs don’t have anything in common except that I’ve been listening to them lately, I love them all, you have probably not heard them, and I think that you might want to do so. So give ’em a spin! Or a click! Or whatever it is that we call pushing the “play” button on our computer screens these days! If you like any or all of these recommended cuts, here’s the link to all of the installments in the series (scroll down when you get there), which is now at 14 posts and counting. Loads of musical wonders and weirdness await the brave and intrepid. Happy listening!

#1. NRBQ, “Magnet”

#2. Against All Logic, “Illusions of Shameless Abundance” (Featuring Lydia Lunch)

#3. Shriekback, “Mothloop”

#4. Theophilus London, “Revenge” (Featuring Ariel Pink)

#5. Magma, “Üdü Ẁüdü”

Five Songs You Need to Hear (And Super Creeps)

Two days ago, it was 80 degrees here in Central Iowa, sunny with a little bit of wind. I got a nice bike ride in, then Marcia and I took a nice walk (following proper social distancing protocols in both cases, though I was dismayed by how many of our neighbors were not), and then I was even able to sit out on our balcony late in the day and bask in the sun until it set.

As I type now, however, the temperature is about 30 degrees colder and dropping, and the wind is roaring at about 40 miles per hour and rising. There are snow squalls in the forecast for later today, and the high daily temperatures don’t look like they’re going to break 50 again for the next week. Oh, and there’s some pounding rain coming too. Is it any wonder we’re ready to move to more pleasant climes? Ugh!

Oh well. We’re not moving away today, and I don’t see any pleasant walks or rides in my near future, so it seems a good day to return to our occasional “Five Songs You Need to Hear” series at the blog. The premise, as always, is that these songs don’t have anything in common except that I’ve been listening to them lately, I love them all, you have probably not heard them all, and I think that you might want to do so. So give ’em a spin! Or a click! Or whatever it is that we call pushing the “play” button on your computer screen these days!

Note that when you click on the first one, you should lift a glass to the great John Prine, one of America’s finest songwriters, who died this week from COVID-19. He was a class act, and a classic. He was also one of the first artists that I reviewed live when I started writing for Metroland in 1995. I caught him at the wonderful old Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, where he was promoting a great new album, Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings, from which this recommended cut was culled. Here’s that story.

If you like that one or any of the other four recommended cuts, here’s the link to all of the installments in the series (scroll down when you get there), which is now at 13 posts and counting. Loads of musical wonders and weirdness await the brave and intrepid. Happy listening!

#1. John Prine, “He Forgot That It Was Sunday”

#2. Gitane Demone Quartet, “Past The Sun” (Note: Video NSFW)

#3. Bongeziwe Mabandla, “Khangela”

#4. Ghédalia Tazartès, “Un Amour Si Grand Qu’il Nie Son Objet”

#5. Hailu Mergia, “Abichu Nega Nega”

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Five Songs You Need to Hear

I was in Florida as the pandemic erupted and the markets tanked, so as things began to shut down and I began to socially isolate myself, I found myself spending a lot of time outside walking by myself with my headphones on, looking at birds, and avoiding humans. My playlist for that trip had Gang of Four’s first three albums (Entertainment!, Solid Gold, and Songs of the Free) on it. They were a favorite band of mine in the ’80s, and their founding guitarist-vocalist-conceptualist Andy Gill had just passed away before we headed Southward, so that was an act of homage, on some plane. As I ambled and listened over the course of a few days, those three records somehow seemed to begin perfectly capturing the way that things are feeling right now, with smart songs about economics, societies, politics, communications — and their inevitable breakdowns.

I suspect that after we come through all of this (whenever that happens), any time that I hear Gang of Four, my mind will be carried back to the Time of the Coronavirus Correction. That’s how it has been for me with System of a Down’s Toxicity album, a chillingly resonant score for the horrors and aftermath of September 11, which happened just as I was spinning that great record constantly as a fresh new release. I can’t hear Toxicity anymore without thinking about that time, which means I don’t listen to it very often. We’ll see if that happens with the songs of this crisis era, most especially (for me) Gang of Four. It probably will.

I include one of Gang of Four’s more prophetic songs in this installment of “Five Songs You Need to Hear,” along with four others that have jumped out at me in recent days for their lyrical or emotional resonance with these trying times.  As always, the concept underlying “Five Songs You Need to Hear” is that they’re favorites of mine, many of you have not likely heard them, and so we should rectify that situation, stat. Musically, none of them have anything in common, though this month they do have some thematic commonality, even though that’s not normally the case. If you like the concept, you can click here for all of the earlier installments.

Here’s hoping everyone reading and listening here is safe and supported. Be good to each other, spin good tunes, watch great movies, plug in with your remote networks as often as you can, unplug from the nattering news machine even more often than that, and wash those hands, you filthy animals, you!

#1. Funkadelic, “Biological Speculation”

#2. Lou Reed, “There Is No Time

#3. Melt Banana, “Infection Defective”

#4. Gang of Four, “We Live As We Dream, Alone”

#5. Snog, “Cheerful Hypocrisy”

(Sittin’ On) Five Songs You Need to Hear

I grind through lots of new record releases toward the end of each calendar year, prepping for my Best Albums reports, so when that’s all done, I tend to spend the ensuing quarter or so just catching up with old stuff in my (large) catalog. As I’ve been happily spinning older faves recently, several seemed like good candidates for one my occasional “Five Songs You Need to Hear” features — so while the wind howls here in Central Iowa tonight, it seemed there was no time like the present to get a little bundle of auditory joy out into the world. Hey presto!

As always, the only connections between these five songs are that I love ’em, and that you probably have not heard ’em. So this series is designed to rectify that that latter situation. If you do like some or all of these songs, and/or the concept in general, hit this link and you can scroll down through all of the earlier installments, too. This is the eleventh piece in the series, so there’s a good mix tape (or Spotify playlist for you streaming weenies) to be made here. And probably enough data points to figure out the current naming convention.

Here we go . . .

#1. “C’est Bon” by Vulkano

#2. “Daughter of the Hillside” by Chicken Shack

#3. “Proper Rock” by The Chap

#4. “Kongsberg” by Yusef Lateef

#5. “A Head Bronco” by Japanther

(You Make Me Feel Like) Five Songs You Need To Hear

Well, the Iowa Caucuses lived way down to my prescient prediction of “chaos and disorganization” last Monday night, and then some. (I’m gonna claim prescience anyway, but if have you have ever paid any attention to how things get done politically out here, then the absurd outcome really shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Please, let this one be the last time Iowa goes first, ever. Amen).

The only positive caucus experience we had through the pointless, poorly managed hours we spent milling about the cold concourse of our local sports arena — regularly getting told to “stop talking!” by our petty tyrant precinct captain, while our candidate’s floor manager gave us wildly varying and mutually exclusive instructions throughout the evening — was watching our daughter, her boyfriend and their friend get interviewed live by Dana Bash on CNN. The three of them were smart and well-spoken, all on the spot. Good job, you! But then, on the flip side, we also interacted with Jake Tapper as he worked the room, and, uhhhh, he was kind of a jerk.

Add some shit weather to the mix as we’ve been sitting here being embarrassed about our state of residence fully failing per forecast, and we’re very ready to hit the road again, which we’ll be doing tomorrow morning, this time for two weeks in Arizona. I’m sitting here making playlists before we head out, and it seemed like a good time for one of my occasional “Five Songs You Need to Hear” features, while I’m looking at my recent listening logs, and trying to distract myself.

As always, the only connections between these five songs are that I love ’em, and that you probably have not heard ’em. So let’s fix that, yeah? If you do like these songs, and the concept in general, hit this link and you can scroll down through all of the earlier installments, too. Happy spins!

#1. OOIOO, “UMO”

#2. Napalm Death, “Logic Ravaged by Brute Force”

#3. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, “Kyrie From Missa Papae Marcelli”

#4. Subtle, “The No”

#5. The Stan Tracey Quartet, “Llareggub”

(Get A) Five Songs You Need to Hear (On Yourself)

We’re in the midst of a days-long weather hellscape here in Iowa with the nastiest of nasty stuff falling out of the sky, continually. Ice, snow, frozen rain, sleet, vulture urine, aviation fuel, chemtrails, and who knows what else. It’s disgusting and cold, whatever it is. So I’ve been hunkered down, spinning tunes, and thought it an apt time to return to our occasional featurette here, “Five Songs You Need to Hear.” The only things these songs have in common are that I love them, and you probably haven’t heard them. Now you can! Get listening! And then explore the artists further, as they’re all most worthy and deserving of your attention.

#1. “Space Invaders” by Solaris, (available on the outstanding and recommended Soul Jazz Records Presents SPACE FUNK: Afro-Futurist Electric Funk in Space 1976-84 compilation)

#2. “Electronic Eye” by Crisis Actor

#3. “Love Lived Here Once” by Christelle Bofale

#4. “Analog Warmth” by Jad Fair & Kramer (Feat. Paul Leary)

#5. “Crazy Energy Night” by Pom Poko