As 2018 comes to a close, we normally find ourselves in a bit of a lull as our clients start shuttering projects for the holiday season … that behavior isn’t too crazy as there are parties and trips to take and between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, and everyone seems to have a lot going on. This is fairly normal for a residential architecture firm, except this year we are busier this November and December then we have ever been and as a result, I have been digging deeper and deeper into my studio playlist to keep myself energized as I put in some longer than normal hours.
One thing that brings me great happiness is when I play something that few people have ever heard of before … and they like it. With the current mix of people in my office, playing something that nobody has heard before is depressingly easy (they irreverently claim “youth” as the main reason they have never heard of the music I play for them) but I still think finding something that they like is a worthy goal.
So combine longer hours at the office with my goal of finding and playing music that exposes my office to something they enjoy and you get my current playlist …which I’d guess achieved a ±90% “I’ve never heard this before” rating.
Maybe you’ll fare better and have heard some of these songs before… or not. Okay, let’s get to it.
All Them Witches – Charles William
While they are musically categorized as a “Metal” band, don’t let that fool you or put you off. Sure, they play loud at times but I have never wanted to whip my hair around or hold a lighter up during one of their songs. My typical response is that I do whatever it is I’m doing a little bit faster than I was previously.
I have two things about this video that might provide additional entertainment value to the song … First: Watch the right leg of the drummer, it’ll help show you how the bass drum is driving the beat. If you were me, you will also get a kick at the pattern of the hi-hat. Second: Stick around to the 2:30-minute mark and you’ll see what a rock-n-roll band looks like.
Bonus Track – When God Comes Back
I don’t know many metal bands that play with a Rhodes keyboard, this seems more like stoner rock to me. Either way, if this song is playing while you’re working out, go ahead and slide an extra 40lbs onto the bench press, you’ll be able to lift it.
Matt Simons – I’m Already Over You
Matt received his college degree in Jazz Saxophone Performance and you can definitely hear the jazz influence in his music. While this is probably not his most popular song, I like the keyboard … a trend I noticed that makes an appearance on a few of the songs on today’s list.
Leon Bridges – Coming Home
Hailing from my backyard in Fort Worth, Texas, Leon Bridges has a great throwback sound and a wonderfully smooth voice that is reminiscent of 1950’s crooners Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.
Bonus Track – Smooth Sailing
From the genius that is the NPR “Tiny Desk” series, in this song you can get a better feeling for just how good a voice Leon Bridges actually has –
I only recently discovered Passafire and for the last several months, they’ve figured heavily into my playlist rotation. Formed in 2003, they are a reggae band made up of students that were attending the Savannah College of Art and Design … that’s right, it’s a reggae band from Georgia … that makes total sense. Everything about this group musically aligns with what I love – you can break down all the different instrument lines and find all sorts of clever things happening.
If you want to get your groove on, this is a really good group to put on your radar.
Agnes Obel – Familiar
Another new artist for me – I originally discovered her from tracking down the music from a “Peloton” fitness ad (which was SeptemberSong if you are interested, as you should be).
Pay attention at the 1:35-minute mark. That is still Agnes singing, it just has this interesting male timbre to it that made me go searching to discover who had contributed additional vocals to the track. I learned that Agnes sang that portion herself and had it slowed down to give it the sound that it has. Pretty cool I think.
The Temptations – Papa was a Rolling Stone
This is definitely a throwback song for me – but you know how I like a solid bass line. A psychedelic soul song that was originally written for the Motown group The Undisputed Truth. It was re-written as a 12-minute song for the Temptations that went on to hit #1 on the Billboard chart and take home 3 Grammy’s … Most of the time all I can think about is how pissed I’d be if I was in The Undisputed Truth and didn’t get the new version.
But the Temptations are amazing AND this video has them singing the song on Soul Train. If you are like the people in my office and don’t know what Soul Train is, you need to go here … you can thank me later.
Marvin Gaye – Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
Probably my most favorite Marvin Gaye song – which is saying something because all of Marvin Gaye’s songs are amazing … and it also has one of the best bass line hooks ever. This is one of those songs that I think everyone will know until I ask the folks in my office and learn that nobody has ever heard this song before.
NappyRoots – AwNaw
I don’t know what to tell you other than I like this song. Whenever it comes up in my musical rotation, you had better watch out because I just might start bustin’ a move … also, this track is best listened to with the volume turned up. Recorded in 2002, there are a handful of songs from this period that is similar in sound to this one … maybe it’s the unexpected addition of the organ that pushed this one onto the list. Do yourself a favor and try to make it at least to the 45-second mark of the song before you punt out. Besides, it was either this song or Trick Daddy and In Da Wind
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – The Rascal King
This is one of my favorite bands from my college days. Affectionately referred to as “The Bosstones” they are a hybrid ska-rock band and have been around since the early ’80s. They have never experienced huge commercial success but their fans are fairly passionate about the group. My favorite album from them was the 1993 studio album “Don’t Know How to Party” but I couldn’t find any videos from that album so I went with the Rascal King.
Fun fact – there have been 15 members of this band through the years with only 4 being there the whole time; the lead singer, the bass guitarist, the tenor saxophonist, AND THE DANCER! If you watch the video, the conductor is the dancer – Ben Carr. I can’t tell you how many times I practiced perfecting his moves. (FYI – The dancer in this video towards the end is not the dancer)
The Green – Love I
I haven’t met anyone in my life who has heard of The Green – which probably wouldn’t be the case if I lived in Hawaii. The song I have included here is off their debut album, which was named iTunes Best Reggae Album of 2010. I first heard them in an ice cream parlor when my wife and I first brought my daughter there on vacation back in 2011 and I’ve been a fan ever since.
Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime
I wasn’t going to include this song in today’s post but it fell into the “Everybody needs to know this song” category. In fact, I’m not sure that we can be friends if you choose to dislike this song. Another great bass line, the genius of David Byrne both musically and from a performance standpoint, what’s not to like? I typically try to avoid providing commentary on the video because they are only here as a medium to allow people to hear the song I am talking about, however, I specifically chose this version BECAUSE of this video.
So there you go – hopefully, there are some new songs and bands in today’s post that are worth adding to your office playlist. This is the 5th entry into my “What Am I listening to” series. Just in case you make it through today’s list and you’re hungry for more., here are the links to the previous four:
Turns those speakers up to 11 and have a great week!