Tag Archives: mixtapes

Listen: Cosmic Cowboys, Longhaired Rednecks and Other Troublemakers

So every couple of years I like to re-read the 2012 Texas Monthly feature (“That ’70s Show”) on the 1972 Austin music scene that birthed the outlaw country movement. If you haven’t read it yet, just stop now and go read it and come back after you’re done.

Every time I read this fantastic oral history I pick up on new artists that for whatever reason I’ve overlooked before. The first time I read it I went out and tracked down a copy of Willis Alan Ramsey’s album. It’s amazing. This most recent time inspired me to look into the work of Mickey Newbury, which is kind of funny since he’s not even mentioned in the article. You know how it goes: you start googling around and one thing leads to another and all of a sudden you’re obsessed with something you’d never even thought about before.

It’s weird, though, that I’d never come across Mickey Newbury. “Luckenbach, Texas” is one of my all-time favorite songs and he’s namechecked in it: “Between Hank Williams’ pain songs and Newbury’s train songs…” How is it that I’d never bothered to look it up before? I’ve been listening to that song all my life — I still have my dad’s copy of Ol’ Waylon. I’m a music nerd; I feel compelled to uncover every reference and backstory of every song I love. Back in college I figured out who the “Jerry Jeff” from Willie’s chorus was and picked up a wild live two-record set that features the drunkest version of “Up Against the Wall, Redneck” ever recorded. But Newbury escaped me.

Newbury was pals with Townes Van Zandt and wrote “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” and arranged “An American Trilogy.” These are songs I have known and loved for decades yet I never looked into their composer. All the best songwriters have proclaimed their love of Mickey Newbury (Kris Kristofferson said, “I learned more about songwriting from him than any other writer”), and in 2011 Drag City reissued his most highly regarded three albums plus a disc of rarities in a fancy box set featuring liner notes written by Ben Fong-Torres, Chris Campion, Kenny Rogers, Kristofferson, and Will Oldham. It’s available on streaming services…minus the liner notes, of course.

So anyway, I made a mix. 21 songs, 69 minutes long, one song per artist, sequenced to maximize listenability but it’s loosely chronological. It tells the story of what happened when country songwriters, mostly in Texas, stopped caring about Nashville conventions and started to embrace the hippies. The bulk of these songs are from 1972 and 73. Tom T. Hall joked about the “illusion of literacy” this new type of songwriting brought to the country music scene.

Buckle up as we take you from the sublime to the ridiculous (and back and forth again) across this sad and beautiful country where someone’s always doing something dirty that decent folks can frown on.

Praise the lord and pass the mescaline!

Continue reading Listen: Cosmic Cowboys, Longhaired Rednecks and Other Troublemakers

GLONO’s 21 Best Songs of 2018

Happy New Year!

Once again, as always, there were a ton of great songs released last year. Narrowing it down to the 21 best is a bit ridiculous, but it’s a digestible chunk of music to summarize the year.

My absolute favorite song of the year was also the most surprising: the Oak Ridge Boys’ “Pray to Jesus” blew my mind the first time I heard it and continues to blow we away with each listen. The fact that the Oak Ridge Boys of “Elvira” fame (1981) are not only still together but still sounding this good and recording material of this quality doesn’t make any sense. Or maybe it does! Everything was crazy in 2018.

In addition to “Pray to Jesus” we’ve compiled twenty more great songs from 2018 sequenced for maximum listening pleasure. Please enjoy!

21 Best Songs of 2018 on Spotify

Continue reading GLONO’s 21 Best Songs of 2018

Listen: JTL FM – This Summer

Spotify: JTL FM: This Summer

Look, those white linen dungarees you bought in a frustrated, which way is up moment back in the deepest, darkest depths of winter are not going to wear themselves. The breeze won’t catch the light tick of their fabric, and you’ll never savor the aroma of Impossible Burgers grilling as you sip a Stiegl Radler with Hendrick’s over ice and catch someone’s eye across the side yard in the fading light of a warm June evening. This will never happen if you don’t let it. It’s key, in these clown show times, that you take a sloppy, mirthful bite out of your warm weather weekend, and watch the soy leghemoglobin drip down the bun and soak into your pant leg. Because woo! My god, you look good today.

Camila Cabello’s “OMG” could be a contender for the vaunted “Song of the Summer” perch; after all, it was designed and built to seize that gauntlet. In the same way, “Fuego,” from 2018 Eurovision finalist Eleni Foureira, feels purpose-built for elation. Or as the peanut gallery in the GLONO break room put it, “‘Fuego’ takes place in that moment when someone on a rope swing lets go and splashes into the cool water of the secret lake out by the armory, only that instant is stretched out for the entire summer.”

After a round of powerful live shows in support of 2016’s Puberty 2, Mitski has returned with “Geyser,” from her forthcoming fifth full-length. Grace, grab, yearn, riff: this track has everything a hot summer night spent on the roof of a garage needs. Savory new material abounds in the set, from Mitski to the welcome return of Madrid’s own Hinds (“Finally Floating”), the heady grooves of J-Cole’s “KOD,” and “Black Walls (Minimal Oxygen)” from Chromatics, house band at the Bang Bang Bar in Twin Peaks, Wash. And don’t forget to pack your glitter cannon, because Rita Ora is out here writing songs about her ex Cara Delevigne, and her pals Cardi B, Charli XCX, and Bebe Rexha were happy to roll through. Roll J’s, love kush.

What is Summer without throwbacks? May, June, July, and August 2001 called, and they are STILL kickin’ it to “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” from Eve and Gwen. If sixties bossa nova goes better with your cocktail, please take a seat on the patio and tune in Nara Leão’s effortless “Chegança.” And don’t forget about the funky pulse of 1970’s Lagos, Nigeria, either. How could you? Not while the Ify Jerry Krusade is around, you won’t.

Music sounds better in the summer. Laughs are louder, food is better, and white linen never looked so good. So roll your windows down and listen as the Jeep next to you bumps the new Ariana, or Migos and Drake, or Rich the Kid. Swoon to Miguel singing en español. Because like Leon Bridges says, “If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be).”

Continue reading Listen: JTL FM – This Summer

Listen: JTL FM ii

Spotify: JTL FM ii

I don’t want nobody hurt, but I made an exception with him.
–Cherry Glazerr

Making a mess is easy when you think you know it all.
–Jessica Lea Mayfield

The color of your mind, you feel it coming right through you.
–Beach House

When you talk to my face you speak politely. I know you’re only following to bite me.
–Tayla

Is she a stripper, a rapper, or a singer? I’m busting bucks in a Bentley Bentayga.
–Cardi B

I don’t want a secret, secret life. I have no idea what I really wanna be.
–Speedy Ortiz

Take over me, I’ll never be the same.
–Ashley Monroe

Major league chemicals make her grave.
–Unknown Mortal Orchestra

So I fall into continents and cars All the sages and stars, I turn all of it to just a su–
–Lorde, Run The Jewels, El-P

It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault like you say it is. It’s not my fault, because I told you long ago that I wouldn’t put up with your bullshit.
–The Regrettes

For all that we know, the heart is pumping rhythms that are not our own.
–Natalie Prass

Even if you got somebody on your mind, it’s alright to be alone sometimes.
–Kacey Musgraves

I don’t wanna worry no more. I just wanna ball like the big leagues. I just want a nice house on the shore. I want a big house like Gatsby.
–Diplo, Lil Yachty, Santigold

Jordan 23, guarantee you’re gonna wanna leave with me.
–Camila Cabello

I remember the first time I was in love. It was only back in 1997.
–MO///

Lean back. Lean back. Lean back.
–Fat Joe, Eminem, Lil Jon, Mase, Remy Ma

You want some me so bad? Come get this body.
–Tinashe, Ty Dolla $ign, French Montana

Continue reading Listen: JTL FM ii

Playlist: History of British Rock (Sire Records, 1976)

I had this cassette in high school. I can’t remember exactly where or why I bought it, but my guess is that it probably came from the Columbia House tape club. Or maybe I bought it at the mall because it had a rare Beatles song on it.

It’s a weird compilation. Released by Sire Records in 1976, it’s not arranged chronologically but it spans from the first single by a British group to reach the American Top 20 (“Silver Threads and Golden Needles” by the Springfields, 1962) through Beatlemania and psychedelia all the way to 1971’s earthy noodlefest, “Layla.”

There’s nothing by the Rolling Stones, the Who, Herman’s Hermits, Hollies, Small Faces, Zombies, Them, Moody Blues, Pretty Things, Spencer Davis Group, or the Yardbirds, and the Beatles song is a goofy throwaway recorded in Hamburg before they had a record deal. Some of the songs never even charted on this side of the pond at all (“Black Magic Woman” by Fleetwood Mac, “Massachusetts” by the Bee Gees). So it’s just a strange listen. But it was my introduction to most of these songs, and to be honest, I haven’t heard many of them since I left home for college.

This comp is a distillation of the four-volume Sire Records series of historical releases issued between 1974 and 1975: History Of British Rock, Vols 1-3 plus Roots of British Rock. Seymour Stein created an ambitious program of double LP packages chronicling rock music’s history. Each original volume contained 28 songs with lots of cool photos and liner notes by Greg Shaw. So my tape was clearly a cheapo knockoff of the original set with no photos or notes. And Sire kept the crappy version in print. Weird!

It’s hard to imagine now, but at the time most of these recordings were otherwise out of print and generally unavailable to the public. Stein told Billboard in 1975: “It is our feeling that rock does need to be available in some sort of historical context for today’s market.” He noticed that jazz and blues “have virtually everything ever recorded available on some sort of collection” and he wanted to do the same for rock and roll.

His plan didn’t last very long. Within a couple years Sire refocused on new music like the Ramones and Talking Heads. This type of historical release would be taken over — and perfected — by Rhino Records.

In fact, shortly after I rescued this tape from the budget bin, Rhino started releasing its nine-disc collection, The British Invasion: The History of British Rock, which seems to have been inspired by the Sire series, by then out of print. The Rhino box was compiled by Harold Bronson and contained 180 British songs that charted in the States. That’s a cool project and all, but my dumb tape was enough for me.

So I recreated it for you to stream…

Continue reading Playlist: History of British Rock (Sire Records, 1976)

The 21 Best Songs of 2017

Happy New Year!

End of year lists are fun. This is better than that. No it’s not. Etc.

We shared almost 200 songs in 2017. Most of those are really good or else we wouldn’t have posted them, right? But these are the 21 that we keep going back to and can’t get enough of.

Why 21? It’s a good amount of music. Less than 80 minutes, which is about how much you could cram onto a CD-R or a little less than what you could fit onto 90 minute tape. It’s digestible.

Our list might not be as diverse and worldly as some you might come across, but these songs all share our point of view. We love guitars, smart lyrics, and bad attitudes. Rock and roll.

These aren’t ranked in order but instead they’re sequenced for listenability. We had to kick it off with the Breeders (good morning!), but after that it pretty much goes from mellow to banging. Of course, feel free to shuffle it up if that’s how you roll. Go nuts. Enjoy.

We hope you like it and we plan on sharing even more songs next year. 5 x 52 = 260, right? That’s the plan anyway.

21 Best Songs of 2017 on Spotify

Continue reading The 21 Best Songs of 2017

Listen: Jams of Note, June 2017

Some jams of note for June. Or, really, it’s a mix about where do you put “Cut To The Feeling.” Is it first? Is it always? Is it just “Cut to the Feeling” for an entire Sound Design tape? Both sides? I got a tape once like that from a pen pal, years ago. Same story, only it was The Cure’s “Pictures of You.” And it was recorded onto a Maxell XLII-S 100.

Please enjoy the set. And maybe pop music might one day save the world. Or, at least, inspire one Rib Fest cover band to rave up a crowd somewhere with CRJ’s “Cut to the Feeling.” Because maybe that’s all we need in this crazy world.

We need more, though, so there are a bunch of other songs.

JTL

Spotify: Jams of Note, June 2017 (25 songs, 1 hr 19 min)

Continue reading Listen: Jams of Note, June 2017

Old Gibson Plant in Kalamazoo Getting Facelift

I was lucky enough to have spent some of my formative music years in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Not only was it a tour stop for national bands (Kalamazoo being exactly half-way between Chicago and Detroit), but it also had a banging local scene comprised of bands that I still count among my favorites. All of this was built on the foundation of a guitar company that stands as one of the pillars of American musical instruments: Gibson Guitars.

Founded in 1902 as “The Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co., Ltd.” in Kalamazoo to make mandolins and guitars, the main plant was at 225 Parsons St. when Gibson left for Nashville in 1984. Heritage Guitars moved in shortly thereafter and while they made fine guitars, the small company kinda let the building go to pot.

But now new owners Archie Leach and Jeff Nicholson, who bought Heritage Guitars in 2016, are bringing the old girl back to life. Local Spins reports that the company is investing in their history and…ahem…heritage with a $12 million renovation of the plant to “turn the factory into a destination for tourists and local residents, while keeping the legacy of Gibson and Heritage alive and well in Kalamazoo.”

And because this is Michigan, there are plans to include a beer garden and restaurant as part of the renovations, which are expected to be complete by the end of 2018 or in early 2019.

Continue reading Old Gibson Plant in Kalamazoo Getting Facelift

Listen to Frontier Justice 3/25/17

Tei Shi has described her songcraft as a communion of many jams, tributaries of ideas meeting on a flood plain to the wide open sea. You can climb inside the layers on a track like 2013’s “M&Ms,” let the stuttering beat of 2015’s “Basically” blast from your imaginary boom box as weird thoughts bounce off your skull on the train ride downtown. And on Crawl Space (Downtown), the Argentina-via-New York City artist’s debut full-length, it’s this kind of stylistic pointillism that’s the name of the game. It’s a headphones record, speaking of train rides; Tei Shi’s vocals drift in from one channel in harmony, while they fill the middle space with Prince screams and hooks to set off another treated blast of brass or a well-timed percussion squall. “Justify” from Crawl Space kicks off this edition of Frontier Justice, and the low-end growl’s nearly as cool as Tei Shi’s multi-dimensional vocal trading barbs with that skittering effect over top. Let it get inside of you.

Spotify: Frontier Justice 3/25/17 (34 songs, 1 hr 59 min)

Speaking of multiple dimensions, Gorillaz have returned from the Fornax Cluster just in time to collaborate with a billion more tastemakers. Reggae has always been central to Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz star map, and here his drowsy vocal meshes well with the melodic chat of Jamaican dancehall hot shot Popcaan. The craziest thing about Gorillaz is how much it always sounds like Gorillaz, no matter what posse of guests Albarn’s rustled up. Perfect example? Jehnny Beth, fearless leader of Savages, leads the pulsing “We Got the Power,” which stands strong on its own even as it’s built from Gorillaz’ signature tool kit.

Debbie Harry has never stopped being cooler than everyone, and “Long Time” is the new proof. Written with Dev Hynes of Blood Orange and feeding on the genetic material of “Heart of Glass,” it’s one of the lead tracks from Pollinator, out May 5, which will also feature collabs with Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio), Johnny Marr, Sia, and the homie Charli XCX. Sitek is also the man behind the curtain on the hazy remix of “Hot Thoughts,” the title track to Spoon’s new record, appearing here alongside , who herself worked with XCX for “Drum,” which certainly bears the British singer-songwriter’s sixth sense for brash pop hooks.

Continue reading Listen to Frontier Justice 3/25/17

Listen to Frontier Justice 2/19/17

The Thousand Points Of Light Memorial Waterfall lies dry at the center of the Super 7 Mega Mall food court tetrahedron, and everybody’s got an opinion as to why. Hair triggers, we have them. In this new reality of hot takes and burning questions, it’s fun to clamber onto a roof and shout “BELL BOTTOMS” over and over into the night sky. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion strut their way outta “Frontier Justice” in its college radio days and into this new consciousness, the latest FJ delivery system being Spotify. And speaking of that new consciousness, on this set JSBX drops into the void between Danny Brown‘s stuttering, claustrophobic “Ain’t It Funny” on one side and Lady Gaga‘s “Diamond Heart” on the other. Young, wild Americans, both.

Spotify: Frontier Justice 2/19/17 (35 songs, 2 hr 3 min)

At the top of the set, Norway’s Sigrid makes her debut with “Don’t Kill My Vibe” and M.I.A. returns with the typically martial “P.O.W.A.” Minor Threat and Agent Orange remind us that the establishment was riling up the youth in the early moments of the Me Decade, Patti Smith remains royalty, and “Said It Already” is new, incisive and grooving from young Londoner Ama Lou. Elsewhere, Tommy Genesis oozes volatility and effortless after-hours club cool on “Art,” and Dai Burger wants to be your class president. Did you know Michelle Branch is back? Hopeless Romantic is her first full-length in 13 years; it was written and co-produced with Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, and sounds like it. Angel Olsen released one of 2016’s best records in My Woman — The engrossing, cinematic “Sister” is a highlight — and digging deep into the Spotify Sound Vaults reveals classic material in a new light: Elvis Presley brings both vulnerability and bluesy swing to an alternate take of “Heartbreak Hotel,” and The Supremes are full of funky soul on “Bad Weather,” the 1973 nugget produced and written by Stevie Wonder.

There’s some Ratt along the way, because after all, what goes around comes around (and they’ll tell you why), L.A. Witch is back with cool new stuff for Suicide Squeeze, RTJ remind us to stay hungry and pissed, and Eminem is no less than unhinged on “No Favors,” one of the many standouts on Big Sean‘s terrific new record I Decided.

Making playlists isn’t protest. It’s not political action. But it can be a soundtrack for both dancing and dissent, and do its best to uphold the art of discourse, which in these polarizing times is increasingly under attack. And if you want to completely check out, there’s always room on Goat‘s delightfully weird magic carpet. Here, “Try My Robe.”

JTL

You can also try an Apple Music playlist. Let me know if this works. -ed.

Continue reading Listen to Frontier Justice 2/19/17