Magnolia Electric Co. – Song For Willie
I recently finished reading Erin Osmon’s book Jason Molina: Riding With the Ghost. There’s a lot to recommend it: details such as Jason’s teenage bands having reassuringly teenage band names (Chronic Insanity anyone?), my hope fulfilled the book would look at the Midwest music scene (subject for Osmon’s next book maybe please?), and the excellent analysis of Jason’s music throughout.
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Silver Jews – Slow Education
When God was young / He made the wind and the sun / And since then it’s been a slow education / And you’ve got that one idea again / The one about dying
I loved the Silver Jews. ‘Slow Education’ is the first song on the first album – Bright Flight (2001) – I ever heard of theirs. So enamoured of the band was I, I stuck a review of the album, which I had cut out of a music magazine, onto my bedroom wall like a soldier, posted overseas, would do to a photo of his sweetheart back home.
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Better Oblivion Community Centre – Didn’t Know What I Was in For
Apart from the music he has put out under his own name – and contrary to the label of singer-songwriter he is frequently ascribed – Conor Oberst is primarily a collaborator. All his bands – Commander Venus, Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos, Mystic Valley Band, and Monsters of Folk – have been bands. And Oberst’s latest one is the Better Oblivion Community Centre, a collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers. I haven’t heard all of their debut record, but I’ve heard some of it and I like what I’ve heard so far.
Jason Isbell – Elephant
Jason Isbell is someone who I’d heard of through his association with the Drive-By Truckers, but had never heard any music by him. Then last year I heard his song ‘Live Oak’, which led me to the album Southeastern (2013). ‘Elephant’, like ‘Live Oak’, is a good indication of Southeastern as a whole: affective, never sentimental, crafted songs, which use country music as a touchstone.
Low – Always Up
My younger self would lament the fact, but due to the way I now find out about and then listen to music, new albums take their time to filter through to me, and I’m usually a year behind in my listening. This meant, when I started thinking about what albums I most enjoyed this year, I found the majority were pre-2018.
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Smog – Palimpsest
I ask for your indulgence because I only chose a Smog song a few weeks ago. But ‘Palimpsest’, as Nico’s song did last year, suits this afternoon’s winter’s day.
This is not only because of the lyrics, but because in ‘Palimpsest’ Bill Callahan holds the listener, with a simple repeated guitar figure and the measured drawing out of his words, in a holding pattern as the winter holds; not terrifying and coldly, but careful and still; and together, always, with the anticipation of being let go.
‘Palimpsest’ is from what is, I think, one of my favourite Smog albums – A River Ain’t Too Much To Love.