Five Songs You Need To Hear (It Felt Like A Kiss)

It’s been a little while since I did one of these ostensibly-monthly featurettes, so today seems like a fine day to return to form and schedule. For this installment of “Five Songs You Need to Hear,” I’ve picked cuts that are all from 2020 releases, and are by bands who I’d never heard prior to This Foul Plague Year. I’m always pleased to find exciting new artists of interest, in keeping with my “the best music ever made is being made right now” ethos. While I didn’t specifically intend it to be that way, after compiling this list, I noted that there’s a decidedly international feel to the selections, with the artists featured representing Mexico, Canada, Norway, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. That’s been fairly typical of my listening this year, and I suspect my year-end Best Albums list will be fairly multi-culti accordingly. Beyond those thematic links, the five songs have nothing else in common stylistically, but I am loving them all, I doubt you’ve heard them all, and I think you will enjoy them once you give them a spin. You can click here to get all of the “Five Songs” installments (scroll down when you get there to move past this article), which are now at 17 posts and counting. Loads of musical wonders and weirdness await the brave and intrepid there. Get ’em in your ear holes!

#1. “Chapter III: The Mortician’s Lamenting Dirge” by Deathnoisefrequency

#2. “Relativistic Jets” by Par Ásito

#3. “Texas Drums Pt I” by Pottery

#4. “Spiritual Change” by Etuk Ubong

#5. “The First Thing I Remember” by Slow Is The New Fast

Five Songs You Need to Hear (This Bird Has Flown)

Been a bit since the last installment of my ongoing “Five Songs You Need to Hear” series, so tonight seems a good evening to rectify that situation. As reported here and here, Marcia and I made our first foray out of the Des Moines metro area this past weekend, with a nice road-trip up to rural Minnesota, about five hours driving each way. I always make sure I’ve got fresh music playlists when we take to the highways, mixing hot new stuff with favorite cool classics. So for this month’s “Five Songs,” I’ve picked cuts that are guaranteed road-trip fare, good for blasting and shouting along, whenever your own quarantine situation lifts enough to allow you to drive, drive, drive. Other than that thematic link, the five songs have nothing else in common, except that I love them all, I doubt you’ve heard them all, and I think you will enjoy them once you give them a spin. You can click here to get all of the “Five Songs” installments (scroll down when you get there to move past this article), which are now at 16 posts and counting. Loads of musical wonders and weirdness await the brave and intrepid there. Happy listening! And safe travels!

#1. “Ride The Party Bus” by Jed Davis

#2. “Gravel Road” by Clutch

#3. “Going Back to Cali” by LL Cool J

#4. “Shove It” by Santigold

#5. “Rocks In The Road” by Uriah Heep

(I’m Always Touched By Your) Five Songs You Need to Hear

I will be doing my summary “Best Albums of 2020 (First Half)” report in the next couple of weeks, six months after I posted my comprehensive Best Albums of 2019 feature. (That was the 28th consecutive year I’ve done such a year-end article, in a combination in print and digital outlets; almost all of them are on the website now). I usually try to do my Albums of the Year reports in early December, recognizing that things that come out after that just aren’t likely to have enough time in the hopper  and proven legs for me to want to claim them as being among the year’s greatest musical achievements. Because of that timing practice, I allow myself a wee bit of calendar fudging for mid-year reports; if something hit the streets in the last couple of weeks of a given year, but its greatest impact is most fully felt in the following year, I’ll still include it on the list.

As as teaser for that list, I offer a fresh installment of my “Five Songs You Need to Hear” series, with each of these selections culled from albums likely to appear on my mid-year Best Albums list. As always, the premise here is that I love all of these songs, you have probably not heard all (or any) of them, and I think that you might want to do so. So give ’em a listen, and then maybe explore their five host albums further. If this series piques your curiosity, here’s the link to all of the “Five Songs” installments (scroll down when you get there to move past this article), which is now at 15 posts and counting. Loads of musical wonders and weirdness await the brave and intrepid there. Happy listening!

#1. “Poisoned Kobra (Shrouds Remix) by Hyperlacrimae

#2. “Vinter” by Myrkur

#3. “Conveyor/Boxes” by Moses Sumney

#4. “Five and Dime” by Hazel English

#5. “Ten Grand Goldie” by Einstürzende Neubauten

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”