When people ask how long my morning drive to work is, I often say "about three songs." This got me thinking about what others might hear when they commute to work each morning. So I asked a few friends to begin posting on Twitter the first three songs they hear every morning on shuffle. If you are someone who uses Twitter and loves music, post your what you hear using the #1st3shuffle hash tag.
The second track this morning on my iPod was "Seaweed Song" by Passion Pit. This Boston electronic band’s debut release, “Manners” was one of my top ten from last year. Passion Pit was originally a solo project of Michael Angelakos while a student at Emerson College. He wanted to create a musical Valentine for his girlfriend and produced an EP on his laptop. The effort led to the formation of a band and one of the best dance CDs of the year. Listening to the infectious beats of Passion Pit combined with a few cups of coffee always seems to get me ready for work.
The San Francisco-based two-piece Girls (comprised of two men) came out of nowhere last year, landing on several end of the year lists for best album. Their debut, unimaginatively titled Album, is a tender yet bratty collection of catchy pop psychedelia coupled to a restrained self consciousness that never comes off as posturing or derivative. An apt description might be that their songs sound like Beach Boys hymns filtered through the bombastic noise of My Bloody Valentine and sung with a nasally baritone who summons comparisons to Elvis Costello. This was one of the few contemporary bands that stayed on my radar last year.
Album [sound recording]
As a senior in high school I heard a cover of Madonna ’s “Like A Prayer” by the singer John Wesley Harding and was immediately hooked by his version of folk, or as he sometimes calls it “gangsta folk.” I immediately dived into Harding’s catalog and discovered a plethora of brilliant songs that were intelligent, witty, tender, historical and sardonic. In college, I was fortunate to see him live and experienced not just a concert, but what felt like a dialogue between Harding and me. I scraped up the money to purchase a concert shirt (I still have it) and that summer my future wife approached me while I was wearing it because she was also a fan.
Throughout the years I have traced the path of who I consider one of the most underrated musicians of the past 20 years. I have read the two fabulous novels he has written under his real name, Wesley Stace, and purchased every new CD. Imagine my surprise when he agreed to participate in our long running concert series and speak about his books the following night.
I encourage you to come to hear Wes speak about his music and books on February 17 and 18 . You will discover an extremely talented musician who has shared the stage with such greats as Bruce Springsteen and has been praised by literary critics for his writing. Space is limited at both FREE events, so come early.
Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead