Posts Tagged ‘Spotify


The Offspring’s We Don’t Have Sex Anymore…

It’s not a surprise this is 2021 Offspring. Back in ’95, they were expressing similar concerns: his girl was sleeping with his friends because she pegged him as a disease. The self-reflective “Self Esteem”, off 1994’s Smash, clearly stated its protagonist wasn’t capable of communication. He was okay with being steamrolled by his ex. Speaking up is hard, not many have the confidence and tools to initiate it, let alone be effective.

Well, I guess I should stick up for myself/But I really think it’s better this way

The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care/Right? Yeah, yeah, yeah

And as desired as sex is, it’s often the most challenging topic to discuss. The Offspring don’t have sex anymore. This is according to their latest single, “We Never Have Sex Anymore”, off forthcoming record Let The Bad Times Roll. Perhaps it’s because of their inability to voice their opinion, or simply state their instinctual needs. Maybe it’s a long-term relationship and no one wants anything to do with the other anymore.

Its lively energy presents itself as the ideal walk out song. Or theme song to some slapstick comedy of a TV series. A rolling rhythm, quirky antics, and horns make this sad and dark topic sound as playful as you wish your current relationship was today.

As corny as many of their hits were, there are hooks galore, sing-along choruses, and instant nostalgia. Cringe-worthy songs seem to never truly leave our psyche. It’s not a mistake this Orange County act is over three decades old and appears to still be pumping fists, creating potential anthems, and showing up in my Release Radar. Like you, Smash was on repeat for me in the mid-90s. Those singles off that record were hard to ignore. Any rock-based station had them on regular rotation. Props, Gentlemen. The industry isn’t conducive to you putting out more than a record, let alone 10. Let this single be a reminder for you and your relationship: speak up, keep lines of communication open, and know that if alt/punk veterans The Offspring are on a dry spell, it’s okay that you are, too.


Natalia Lafourcade gets re-worked…

I won’t be traveling in the near future. In the interim, I can drop the needle on a record for much needed escapism. When I was younger I was fortunate to immerse myself within cities of Latin America. I investigated the music of those countries and sampled their sounds. I wanted genres unique to those countries, music I wasn’t hearing stateside. Spotify is aware of this previous period in my life and continues to alert me.

My weekly Release Radar isn’t giving up on my Latin tongue. This sound, one of upbeat rhythms, a warm aura, and intricately plucked flamenco guitar is temporary bliss. Natalia Lafourcade, a diverse and multi-talented singer from Mexico City, is charming and possesses the ability to whisk me away. A new artist to me, but by no means in the infancy of her career. Switzerland’s Michel Cleis caught inspiration in her 2017 “Tu Si Sabes Quererme” and added an extra bounce.

A remix is hit or miss for me. Some bump, can inject a whole new dynamic to the original. Others fall flat or radically alter the original to the point of why did you bother? But when an artist and their catalog is new to me, and is given the remix treatment, I can objectively listen. The original is moving, Lafourcade’s light and beautiful voice complement the guitar and the song’s uplifting aura. Cleis likes a tribal, rapid-fire tempo, one that incites a benevolent riot amongst the village. His sound is Carnaval meets a hedonistic Ibiza 16 hour rave.

He ratchets up the BPMs, challenges our feet to attempt to keep up with the Latin rhythms, and begs you to move. His sonic signature asks us to keep pace with his tweaks and formidable maracas that make this version shake. If you’re not moving, my hope is your eyes are closed and you’re sitting outside of today’s reality.


2020’s Top Artists…

This period brings me joy. Best Of lists are popping up and my unique data is unearthed: Spotify Year End stats. Before I dive headfirst, I visualize what the results are. Did a favorite artist release a new record? Was a certain theme running through my life that a specific artist tackles masterly? Or am I as predictable in my middle age as I was a decade ago?

I consider myself strategic with my musical choices. You have to be. I continue to be a front to back album listener. I am true to artists of my past. I have a regular rotation. Spotify is my daily soundtrack.

I updated my account to a Family Plan this year. My wife and I had our own separate accounts. A switch to the Family Plan was common fiscal sense. But I continued to deflect because in my simple mind this would impact my listening stats. Spotify’s Year End Stats are always one of December’s highlights. They must be pure and accurate. If I had a Family Plan, would it display my Top 100 songs; if my daughter plays Taylor Swift, is this skewing my Top Artists? After some doctorate level research and next-level verifying via my Spotify squad, all wonderings led me to my stats staying true.

This plan enabled us to have five logins that would generate five unique year end stats. A peer using Spotify’s freemium option got wind of my upgrade and requested a handout. He wanted to wheel and deal. A Spotify Premium login for HBO GO access. Wait, you want to me to potentially jeopardize my Spotify account so I can view Curb Your Enthusiasm? What if I became blacklisted from my digital record collection? If anything was essential this year, music was it and nothing you can offer me is worth considering.

What’s indicative of this year’s Top Artists are how safe four of the five acts are for all ears. Our family was home a lot. Cooped up together. I opted for headphones when possible. But with kids around, I had to be semi-present. There wasn’t a fear of endlessly blasting these artists with little ears around; sensitive ears were safe around four of the five, too.

All five of these artists released new material. One maybe their greatest output over the course of three decades. Prince’s cavernous vault continues to be explored and excavated for our funky listening pleasure. Sault released a pair of truth telling wake up calls in the form of let’s set aside all the bullshit for a minute while we dance societies’ problems away records. Hawksley Workman is a staple in this home. He’s a game changer, an artist who towed us through 2020’s mucky trenches. Roisin has been whetting our appetite for years with one off singles of laser-heavy disco bliss and 2020 saw the unleashing of the dance floor ready Roisin Machine.

Predictability feels safe, routine makes my days easier than when shit is chaotic. My wife accurately listed four of the five Top Artists when I asked her for my top spots. If at middle age I’m predictable and becoming stuck in my stale ways, I will own that. At least my taste in music continues to be fresh.


Marshall Knows Best…

Preview(opens in a new tab)

24 hours ago I wouldn’t have considered my Bluetooth speaker a smart device. This technology knows what’s happening within your house and knows what’s best for its inhabitants ears now, too.

Marshall’s Kilburn II has become our go-to Bluetooth speaker. One of its features is “multi-host functionality”; multiple devices can simultaneously connect to the speaker. If our Bluetooth is enabled on our mobiles while we’re in close proximity, and the speaker is ON, both phones will connect. A function my wife and I never knowingly utilized.

She’s hip to my latest find, and while preparing dinner, was listening to Laura Marling’s “Song For Our Daughter” episode. Upon sitting down to our meal, Laura was still dissecting her art. We encourage dinner conversation, a podcast doesn’t make for ideal background noise if you care to focus on the episode’s contents.

My wife asked if I wanted music on, my face had to declare: fuck, of course. But I politely said it’s more conducive to our meal. She hit next on her mobile to advance to the next file in her queue; but without anything queued up, the Marshall defaulted to another queue and began playing Roisin Murphy’s sizzling “We Got Together”. No one thought much of it.

She utilizes Spotify’s radio feature. You play an artist or song you enjoy and it creates an on the go playlist based on that artist’s sound. Since we do share similarities in – some – artists – it’s not abnormal for her radio station to play something we both gravitate towards. But as “We Got Together” faded out and “Murphy’s Law” faded in, we both became intrigued.

I questioned if her device was still playing and walked over to my phone. The speaker reverted to my queue. I proudly displayed Roisin’s sultry LP to my wife.

My musical transitions can be rather jarring; a Charles Mingus jazz improvisation doesn’t lend itself well to crossfading into a hard-hitting, angst-ridden Local H bomb. But hot damn, Marshall, this surprise transition was seamless and gave me the keys to the dinner’s DJ booth; my wife smirked and annoyingly said, “The speaker obviously prefers your music over mine.” (duh!)


Nick Cave and a Piano

A piano and a voice is a formidable combination. The bench’s occupant rests in front of a blank canvas, one that can be splattered with various emotions powerful enough to move you, force you to focus on the lyric’s message, and in Nick Cave’s case, haunt you.

Back in June, Nick walked into an empty 19th Century Alexandra Palace in London and sat down for a stripped down performance spanning his musical career. Idiot Prayer: Alone At Alexandra Palace is this somber performance’s concert film. A month later this film debuted as a ticketed livestream event. In November, we will be graced with a global theater release and a vinyl, CD, and streaming album of all 22 performed compositions.

Performing to an empty room, or placing a camera in front of your makeshift stage for a virtual show isn’t ideal. There is no energy to feed off from the crowd; it’s absent from excitement and engaged fans; but perhaps that’s the beauty: the loneliness creates feeling, the weight of the lyrics and the light piano draw you into the artist like never before.

Cave on solo performances:

“I loved playing deconstructed versions of my songs at these shows, distilling them to their essential forms – with an emphasis on the delivery of the words. I felt I was rediscovering the songs all over again, and started to think about going into a studio and recording these reimagined versions at some stage – whenever I could find the time.

Off Cave’s grief-heavy record Ghosteen, he closes the film with “Galleon Ship”, an ode to love and the inevitable trauma it brings. The beautifully minor melody complements his croon, “For we are not alone it seems/so many riders in the sky/the winds of longing in their sails, searching for the other side”. A deconstructed piece takes on new meaning and unveils its emotional weight like only a piano and a voice can.


Moving Day Loves Digital Media (Draft Resurrection)

A post began in 2013 on the eve of saying goodbye to another apartment. I wasn’t a gypsy in my former life. Though every 12 months, it was time to move. There wasn’t one reason why this was always the case; but it continued to happen. Drafts from my past are comical to relive. Some make me realize I am the same person, mindlessly living through this ongoing chapter, while others are afterthoughts as I slammed that chapter shut lifetimes ago.

Damn, another lease is up. It’s time to pack up my goods, squash them strategically into my ride, and begin anew. As slightly nomadic, my physical music collection is non-existent. I desire a collection representative of Rob Gordon’s — but before that curation, a permanent residence; or enough means to hire professional movers to safely pack up my collection and treat it as a sacred artifact.

As much as I yearn for yesterday and its tangible music mediums, there is something to be said about being a music fan in 2013. Forget boxes, crates of dusty wax, heavy hardwood shelves to haul. Today’s collection is digital. Pack that laptop and continue your Siamese twin connection with your phone. Your music collection is ready to be shipped.

Ideally, I’d love to peer around my place and be surrounded by musical experiences; records, CDs, gig posters, merch. Today’s streaming options are missing that unreleased 1997 LP from a little known Chicago act, amongst countless other cherished oddities. A light CD collection must exist. My CD collection resides in my car; smashed in the dash, vertically placed in the console, haphazardly in the doors.

When this gypsy-like chapter in my life ends and a new chapter of permanent residency begins, a long-term goal, one that I will attack with great enthusiasm is building a physical, hard as hell to move music collection. Until then, do I have the option to go month-to-month?


Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition)

Strong records from debut artists hooked me in 2019 while on a multi-year blog break. One was Black Pumas, a sensual, soulful duo out of Austin, TX. With a dynamic frontman in Eric Burton, with enough charismatic smoothness of an Otis Redding with plenty of young volcanic James Brown energy. Live, he’s there to perform, put on a theatrical-like production through movement, running his voice through various registers, and complementing Adrian Quesada’s neo-soul beauty.

“Black Pumas made you something special.” was in my inbox this morning.

“Fans First”, is Spotify’s feature where listeners of specific artists get first dibs on various offerings; gig access, t-shirts, and pre-sales of upcoming record releases.

“11 bonus tracks including unreleased originals, live recordings, and four cover songs” jumped out in a “Fans First” email. I’m a completist for artists that move me. Their debut consisted of 10 tracks. Every song is warm and inviting, possesses the ability to make you feel and move through poetic lyricism advocating for love and unity; and perfect dinner music. Additional Black Pumas excited me. A sense of urgency came over me as the scarcity of this release was highlighted:

“This Fan’s First pressing is limited to 1000 copies worldwide, pressed on an exclusive color and only available while supplies last.”

Sold, Spotify. Artists have no idea how important their art has been to push us through these troubling, unknown times. I know that a vinyl release is a piece of art. This purchase is an enhancement to my listening experience, and more importantly, a small token of appreciation for all Black Pumas do.


Themed Listening

It’s easy to fall into a habit of lazy listening. I open up Spotify, look at “Recently Played” or my “Daily Mix” and hit play. Never a wasted listen, these are artists and records I enjoy. But my collection is vast, and sadly, a great percentage of it is no longer heard. Through inspiration, a need to mentally push myself, and a craving for less heard albums and artists, I began creating a blueprint for tomorrow’s listening.

It’s become a ritual in the evening. I choose a theme where the parameters are tight, the criteria must be met in order to be played; only records from 1992, albums from Chicago-based artists, bands whose name starts with the letter S, amongst other arbitrary, sometimes ridiculous terms. This forces me to reacquaint myself with forgotten acts; bands lost in the haystack of the streaming era.

I was inspired to participate in this daily exercise by Hanif Abdurraqib, the excellent author of Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest; and They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us. This writer has an eclectic collection and deep knowledge of music. His Twitter feed asks provocative questions: What artist’s most popular song is also their best song? Challenges his followers to create uniquely themed playlists: Track 1, Side 1, Album 1 is a collection of opening songs from artists’ debut albums. In a time of monotony and uncertainty, this daily exercise motivates me to be a stronger, more varied listener.

Upcoming Shows:


May 2021