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Jonno's Musical Musings

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Conjectures' started by Jonno, Oct 15, 2016.

  1. Hello hello. In my lane of work as a journalist, I'm often assigned to uncover some of the latest and greatest music artists on all scales, from the local country kid just budding into the scene with the help of a family friend who just so happens to be big in Nashville to the gaunt folk-singer in a murky bar who's been at it for years, to multinational pop superstars and deservedly lauded songwriters that have truly found the guise to make music out of poetry. For those of you who've had the privilege of checking out @Rose's own music thread, it's basically that, but with my own musical musings (cut to credits). 

    Cheers to good ol' @Eebit for the idea, by the way! Credit's due where it's due, and our resident, fan favorite golden-locked boy really hatched quite the idea recommending this topic to me. Whereas Rose is mainly ranting about the adds that she sends in through her wonderful work at Red Lipstick Radio over at WZBT, I'm speaking from my positions as a freelance music & arts writer with Tucson Local Media and Tucson Weekly, events promoter at Monterey Court, staff member of PopMatters, and North American editor at For Folk's Sake. Other than that, I'm speaking as a friend and colleague to many in the business, whether we're talking about the super cool radio hosts like Rose, the innumerable talented musicians out there in the world, labels, album cover artists, photographers, promoters, managers, or otherwise... It's a big world. Its own ecosystem. I'm looking forward to divulging random stories from my musical world to you all whenever my mind really turns towards the idea of it!

    2016 has been an incredible year for music, honestly - more-so than 2015 or most recent years. For a year that's otherwise been rather tumultuous on a global and personal scale, it's super cathartic to be able to lean back on music, like any true friend, as one of the few constants pervading the scene. 

    I'm sure we'll be talking all-around favorites of the year soon, but for now, let's focus on Conor Oberst. He's been an obsession of mine for a long time now - since the release of Bright Eyes's 2004 album, I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning - and while I've always admired his Dylanesque tenacity for fusing folk and rock influences into new and wild ways since, I've also been yearning for something more simplistic from him since those early days. He's so much more poised and assured in his craft than he was 12 years ago, but there's something so fulfilling about a dude strumming his guitar and yelling out in protest with not much more about it that I was always hopeful he'd return explicitly to his folk roots. His self-titled Conor Oberst from a couple years back came close, but it didn't retain as much of that warmth in roots, personally, to totally scratch this itch...

    Ruminations, which was just released today, totally scratches that way. It's straight-up folk with a dark streak. No frills about it - one of my absolute favorites of the year, right out of the gate. Check out a live video of Conor performing the opening track off of the album live on the Current, which is also my current favorite cut from it. If you like what you hear and you're the money-spendy type... consider throwing the dude a bone here, or on iTunes or something.


    Next up, we'll probably be talking about some of my friends in music who I'm super passionate about, but on the overall, this is going to be one wonderful and varied topic that I'll enjoy long nights getting tangential in for your (hopeful) pleasure. :p

    If you have any questions for me about my work, any other favorite music of mine, genres that I listen to, my thoughts on concerts, or whatever else you can think of, by all means - ask! Discuss! Let's get this topic on da road.
  2. Oh! I won my station vinyl of the Conor Oberst record!
  3. @Rose - WHAT. That's pretty damn awesome! Man, I love his album. It's still on constant repeat over here (along with half of his entire discography; Oberst has the distinction of writing and performing my favorite song probably ever, too, but more on that later).

    I mentioned Leonard Cohen earlier today and feel the need to touch on him a bit more in the appropriate thread. I was assigned by the editor over at PopMatters to discuss him in our "Best of" end-of-year sections for 2016, so you'll hear much more there once it's up and I link it to ZEJ, so for now, I'll just say - what a writer. Even from a purely prose perspective, this was a man who caught pure, atmospheric, tangible beauty in a bottle and dutifully granted it to the masses to be touched. Of all of the celebrity deaths in 2016, perhaps it is his who carries the most weight with me and many others. A protest performer who taught us to think outside of the pre-ordained box, a musician whose art is a warm friend in the darkest times for decades past and decades to come, and a should-be laureate by any measure of the idea.

    I'm really glad that both he and Bowie were able to release final albums this year that seem to offer closure on their lives. You Want It Darker was, in my opinion, such a treat. Rarely does such an influential songwriter really live to produce a final record so deep into their twilight years, let alone produced by his own son, and even still performed by himself right at the edge of life. Here's one of my favorite cuts from the record:


    A small snapshot of what else I'm listening to right now:
  4. I'll have you know that the Conor Oberst vinyl came in a box with bubble wrap and I spent about five minutes popping that shit. There's video of it on twitter and my snapchat.
  5. ^That is absolutely incredible. I've seen it all for myself on your respective feeds since posting in this topic last (over two months ago - woof, my lack of posting frequency has got to change), and it was a miracle. I've since been able to get Ruminations as an LP with some Christmas money, so that was cool. I love listening to folk on a warmer vinyl display - call me a hipster, call me -J-. :5

    I've been loving the new music being put out by Father John Misty, recently. I was turned on to him a couple of years ago and attached myself to the truth and irony of his demon clown act all across I Love You, Honeybear, but hot damn if Pure Comedy didn't captivate me even further. The title track is wildly macabre and dry as the Misty persona would imply straight away, but peel away just a single, sheer veneer and you can't say he's wrong with his worldview.

    I really love Jesca Hoop's incoming release, Memories Are Now, too. I was lucky enough to nab it from the press for a PopMatters review a while back, so I've been enjoying it for around a month now when it's not released until the 10th of this one. Sub Pop has got some serious game right now, what can I say? Most of my favorite tracks haven't been showcased on her channel yet, but you can still bask in the glory of her titular single, too. Some pretty luscious, galactic harmonies running amuck there.

    I've been surrounding myself with a lot of hip-hop, too. In particular, I've been loving Run the Jewels' latest and am so glad they're finally getting the acclaim that they've pretty much inarguably deserved since their first releases. I especially dig the final track, "A Report to the Shareholders/Kill Your Masters", off of RTJ3. Given, if encouraging revolutionary political movements mixed with standard hip-hop braggadocio isn't your thing then there isn't anything new here that will turn you on after their first two LPs, but damn if I don't love the whole thing.
  6. Just bought a handwritten lyric sheet to Drew Holcomb's "Wild World" in support of his new album coming out next month. I was actually gonna just pre-order Breath of the Wild on Switch with a strategy guide and all of the associated amiibo to be shipped to my house on release day for like $200 instead, LOL, but then thought about what the song means to me and the fact that this is a limited offer while Zelda games are tossed out there and last for the masses for a pretty long time before fading into obscurity.

    That, and I think it'll look pretty darn great next to my sheet of Jon McLaughlin's "Indiana".

  7. So we all know that @Rose is the most resplendent human to grace the earth but did you know that that's only become more of a solidified fact this week after sharing certain albums with me that I am HYPED about. Hooooly moly.

    Figured I'd hop on here and share another who's-who list of artists that I'm particularly enjoying, lately. A good handful of them are some that I've also reviewed. The big thing is that Rhiannon Giddens, Conor Oberst, Portugal. The Man, Gregory Alan Isakov, The Maine, and Mayday Parade are all coming to my city over the next couple of months and I am making a concerted effort to get press tickets to as many of these shows as possible after missing out on Willie Nelson, City and Colour, Jamestown Revival, Father John Misty, Panic! at the Disco, Weezer and others that left a bad taste in my mouth for not attending over the past year.

    Creds go to @Eebit for reintroducing me to the Portugal's tunes lately, particularly through the lens of 2011's stellar In the Mountain in the Cloud. I especially love "Sleep Forever" - cop it below.

    Other artists/songs that I've loved, lately:
    Ryanhood - "I Didn't Put Anything Into Your Place"
    Beth Bombara - "Sweet Dream"
    Keller Williams - "Hategreedlove" (feat. The Accidentals)
    William Matheny - "29 Candles"
    Conor Oberst - "Tachycardia (Full Band Version)"
    Rhiannon Giddens - "Birmingham Sunday"
    The Maine - "Love Yourself" (Justin Bieber Cover)
    Mayday Parade - "Ghost"
    Gregory Alan Isakov & the Colorado Symphony - "Liars"
    The Wood Brothers - "Ophelia"

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