Sunday Kind of Love xiii

We’re officially on the Oxford countdown! I leave for England in a month! (Well, a month and 2 days, but whatever!) Time to start planning outfits and prepping! And, I guess, doing schoolwork, or something. It’s such a dream come true to get to study at Oxford this summer—I wanted to go there as a child!

Here’s what’s up this week, as I anxiously await my departure:

 

My favorite singer, Sucré, put out a new single on Friday! In Pieces is available on iTunes and Amazon, so snap it up! Video for “Move with the Tide” on Youtube! And if you missed “Inside,” well, get on that.

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On that note, Natalie Prass and Neko Case had new albums this week! Bless this month!

Really into this collection of short stories by Julian Barnes.

Just bought these headphones and this speaker from Urban Outfitters on sale. Finally joining the Bluetooth revolution…about 10 years late.

I mentioned this nail polish brand last week, but holy moley, is it the best freaking nail polish I’ve ever used. Love Aila.

This essential oil rack is so extra but I love it.

I have always wanted to be a mom, and these little stacking name rings are too much for my heart to take.

Lay Lay is the only person that matters in the entire world.

Congrats to ABC for cancelling Roseanne. Shouldn’t have taken a racist tirade. We need to stop giving bigots platforms. First Amendment states with clarity that we have freedom of speech—not freedom from consequences. (Maybe now ABC can revive Happy Endings, a show that is *actually* great?)

Happy Pride, y’all. My two favorite sources of June flair—Madewell x HRC & ITMFA.

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My Top 5 Albums of 2016

2016 was another year that SLAYED the music game. I can’t keep up with the amount of good good that blessed us this year.

5. Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!

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Donald Glover was already one of my favorite people. I was a fan of his comedy and a total nerd about the show Community (#sixseasonsandamovie), so when I discovered, many moons ago, that he rapped under the name Childish Gambino, I feverishly sought out his music. And loved it. His raps are so clever, it’s painful. Yes, I know, he’s rapped some unsavory sexist shit, but you have to appreciate the artistry. And I am NOT an apologist about this sort of thing. But anyway…

It had been a few years since a Childish release, so I was awaiting more rhymes to blow my mind. NOT SO, it turns out. This isn’t a rap album! I guess it’s an R&B album, but in a lot of ways it defies genre. It is a masterpiece, start to finish, as if we expected anything less from Mr. Gambino. Once I get my hands on a hard copy of this album, I’ll have a lot more to say about it critically, but for now, SLAY THE GAME, BAE.

Consider the tracks:

“Me and Your Mama” and “Redbone”

4. Solange – A Seat At The Table

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Before ASATT, Solange hadn’t released new music since her 2012 EP True (which is a 7-song dose of heaven), so this album had to face and overcome a lot of hype. And ohmylordinheaven does it deliver. This album is 100% pure #BlackGirlMagic. Knowles incorporates moving spoken word into nofucksgiven anthems like “Don’t Touch My Hair”—for Solange, the personal is political. Apart from being poignant and brave, the songs themselves comprise 51 minutes of solid songwriting and performances. Solange’s voice is certainly more delicate than that of her very famous sister, but its fragility is made powerful both by the subject matter of the songs and the perfectly tight melodies and arrangements.

Even the title of this incredible album takes a fierce stand. Solange is demanding that black women, arguably one of the most marginalized groups in the world, be granted autonomy over their own bodies and experiences. It is cutting and badass, and we especially need fearless work like this under the fascist regime currently dismantling our government. Solange will save us.

P.S. Every single person on Earth that is cool (André 3000, Questlove, Raphael Saadiq, Q-Tip, Lil’ Wayne, Rostam, Kelly Rowland, Miss Tina!) makes an appearance on this album, so don’t sleep!

Consider the tracks:

“Cranes in the Sky” and “Rise”

3. case/lang/veirs – case/lang/veirs

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I nearly had a heart attack when this collaboration was announced. Queen of my existence Neko Case teaming up with two equally rad ladies whose music I adore (k.d. lang & Laura Veirs)? From the first track, “Atomic Number,” to the last note, this album is gripping, emotional, and just fun enough to not leave you in a puddle on the floor contemplating your own lack of talent and drive (oh, is that just me?). Produced by the incredible Tucker Martine (also Laura’s husband—s’cute!), the album balances sparseness with rich string arrangements in a way that never feels heavy-handed.

Each of the songwriters’ voices comes through so clearly, but at no point is any of the women stealing the show. k.d.’s songs are sultry and slower, Laura’s have a pop vivacity to them that sparkles. Neko, it seems, holds the remote control to my emotions. This is as close to a perfect record as it gets, guys. Go forth and listen.

Consider the tracks:

“Best Kept Secret” and “Delirium”

2. David Bowie – ★ (Blackstar)

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Look up here, I’m in heaven. Bowie blessed us with this beautiful love note on his 69th birthday, 2 days before his sudden and tragic death from cancer. There is not much I can say about this album that has not already been said beautifully in the past year, but I can express how much I truly love it. It was the man’s 25th album. To put it in perspective, Nirvana made 4. Twenty-five albums—twenty-five expressions of Bowie’s infinite genius. In some ways, it feels like the album is lost to the tragedy, overshadowed by heavy-handed tributes and cover versions. And that Lady Gaga Grammy thing, forchristssake.

There are still a lot of emotions wrapped up in this for me, so here, read what a bunch of brilliant people have said about this opus:

Pitchfork

Rolling Stone

Consequence of Sound

Consider the tracks:

“Lazarus” and “Dollar Days”

1. of Montreal – Innocence Reaches

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I know. I put this above David Bowie. There is a special ring in hell reserved for me. But goddamnit if I don’t love of Montreal. Everything Kevin Barnes lays his hands on is pure gold (see Pillar Point’s most recent album). Innocence Reaches was everything I wanted from the new oM. Over the last few years, oM has genre-hopped at a head-spinning pace. 2013’s Lousy with Sylvianbriar was recorded to tape, has a heavily-featured girl singer (the incomparable Rebecca Cash), and is the most rootsy, acoustic thing the band has released. Last year’s Aureate Gloom expanded on that theme, but added a frantic rock energy to it. Innocence Reaches gives the people what they want without compromising Kevin’s penchant for brilliant, provocative lyrics and innovative song structure. It has all the dance energy of 2007’s Hissing Fauna but with delicious trap beats tucked in so tastefully they don’t distract, only enhance. Lyrically, the album gives zero fucks—perfect in a year that saw so much hatred and bigotry from the right. In the land of of Montreal, gender is largely irrelevant and individual expression is celebrated. The opening track “Let’s Relate” contains the lines,

Amalgam, I think that you’re great 

Let’s relate

I already like you

I like that you like you

I think that you’re great

I want to relate

Barnes uses the simplest possible language to convey a sentiment that has been impossible for so many to grasp. Seeing him perform this track wearing a hat that said, on each side of the brim, BOY or GIRL, really drove the point home.The following track, “It’s Different for Girls,” is a male feminist anthem for the ages. Typically, this doesn’t work. Men inserting themselves into this conversation often goes awry. But Barnes handles the topic, presumably inspired by his own fluid understanding of gender and the fact that he now has a teenaged daughter, with such finesse that he actually adds to the conversation without trampling over women’s voices. Lines like, “For every one ‘psycho bitch’ there’s ten thousand aggro pricks” are really, really fun to sing at the top of your lungs.

Basically, Kevin is a goddamned genius.

Consider the tracks: 

“Trashed Exes” and “My Fair Lady”

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This list may change and evolve dramatically—I haven’t even heard all of the 2016 releases that we have, and there are so many more I still have to buy, like my beloved Frank Ocean and Chance the Rapper (who crushed the game on SNL recently). I haven’t even listened to the new Bon Iver yet, which is insane since Justin Vernon is basically my sexual orientation.

A few honorable mentions:

Beyoncé – Lemonade

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Because I’m a human woman, and Beyoncé SLAYED ALL DAY with this #flawless album. This isn’t just a “Bey is queen of all things” type of shout out. This album is actually a musical triumph. Everyone who’s anyone had a hand in making this a balls-out amazing album. She and Solange tagged-teamed 2016.

Consider the tracks:

“Don’t Hurt Yourself (feat. Jack White)” and “All Night”

Various Artists – The Hamilton Mixtape

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You already know I love me some Lin-Manuel Miranda. The features on this are insane. I’m only like, ten years younger than him, so our mutual love for Ja Rule/Ashanti duos makes perfect sense. Even if you’re not a musical person, this mixtape is worth it for “Wrote My Way Out”, and “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” alone.

Consider the tracks:

“Say Yes to This” (Jill Scott) and “My Shot” (The Roots, Busta,Joell Ortiz, & Nate Ruess)

 

**I googled these images, y’all. No credit taken.

 

2015 in Shows

2015 has been a landmark year for music…and going to amazing shows! We started the year off slow, with back-to-back of Montreal and Father John Misty shows at the Paradise in March. Apparently, Josh Tillman had just filmed the Master of None episode when we saw him, because he referenced joining the ranks of “fake TV bands” such as the Shins on Gilmore Girls. I finally saw the episode the other day and it was so fantastic. Congrats, Aziz Ansari, on a different (but still very awesome) type of show.

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Phish at Shoreline Ampitheatre (7.24.15)

We were treated to a Phish concert at Shoreline in the Bay Area in July. We never go to huge arena shows like that, so it was an awesome experience, even though I previously knew nothing about the band. Phish fans are hardcore. Matt, the husband of the cousin that took us to the show, has seen the band over 150 times! And, according to Instagram, Regina Spektor (who I saw in ’09) went to see them a day or so after we did (yeah, we’re cool like that).

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Chelsea Wolfe with Wovenhand (9.5.15)

 

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Natalie Prass & co. (11.8.15)

The Sinclair in Cambridge has been THE place for shows this year. In the past 3 months, we’ve seen Chelsea Wolfe, John Grant, and Natalie Prass there. There’s no bad view at the Sinclair, so no matter what time you arrive, you’re guaranteed an incredible show (and Insomnia Cookies after the show).

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Nicole Atkins @ Royale Boston

We were lucky enough to win tickets via Facebook to see Nicole Atkins & JD McPherson at the Royale last month! Meeting Nicole was such an insane privilege. She’s one of my favorite singer/songwriters and easily one of our generation’s most remarkable talents.

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Dengue Fever @ BMH (9.2015)

Another “surprise” show was Dengue Fever at Brighton Music Hall. We didn’t get tickets until the last minute and I’m so glad we did. Nimol is an international treasure. The Dengue show might have been one of the most joyful experiences of my life. I don’t understand how this band hasn’t taken over the world.

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Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston, MA

My father and I went to see John Cleese at the Cutler Majestic Theatre on tour for his memoirs, So Anyway…

I can’t wait to read the book! It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to go, so I didn’t have time to read it prior to the show, but regardless, Mr. Cleese was an absolute treasure, as expected. This clip of Cleese on Conan is a great little taste of what my experience was like.

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Left to right: Matt Hollenberg, Kenny Grohowski, John Medeski, John Zorn

Last Friday was a twofer: it was my first time at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) in Boston and it was my first time seeing John Zorn in person! He didn’t perform, since the concert was for his “heavy metal organ trio”, Simulacrum, but it was still amazing. I wore earplugs, something I have only done once before at a local hardcore show.

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My brother! He got the blond gene, the bastard. (My glasses are Skunboy for Bonlook.)

Sunday, the 15th, Fig & I were treated (by my dad) to tickets to see Bill Maher at the Providence Performing Arts Center. It’s so life-affirming that someone with such a wide-reaching voice  shares (99% of) your opinions. It was also my first ever comedy show—HOLLA.

Tonight we’re seeing Cameron Esposito at Brighton Music Hall. Another stand-up, who you might know from Maron or the Meltdown. She’s one of my absolute favorites right now, and I was super stoked when Fig impulsively bought tickets to see her while we were at the Dengue show.

We’re capping off the year with Joanna Newsom at the Orpheum on her Divers tour. This is the first time I’ve ever seen Joanna live after nearly a decade of rabid fandom, so I’m pretty excited. Fun tidbit: Michael and I had our first actual date at the Orpheum–he took me to see Neko Case as a belated 22nd birthday present. It’s the first time we’ve been back together since then (I went back a few months later for Neutral Milk Hotel).

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One show I’m bummed I missed was Eisley with We The City and Copeland. I’ve never heard the music of the latter two bands, but this is the second time I’ve missed Eisley in the past two years—a major, major bummer because they’ve been one of my favorite bands for years. They’re currently on tour with only 1 original member (Sherri), 1 established member (Garron) and a whole crew of fam & friends. It would have been amazing to see, but as I’m already having Stacy and Chauntelle withdrawals, so it might have sent me into a spiraling depression.

Also, the Decemberists, Belle & Sebastian, and the New Pornographers all rolled through town this year, but they’re big enough now to play the House of Blues which is not our fave venue.

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I hope we have as fruitful a 2016 as we did 2015. Amazing new music hasn’t ceased for a second (you can check my Modern Music page for updates on new releases).

What shows have you seen this year?

—DellaBites