"Strong Swimmer" by Mutual Benefit // Love’s Crushing Diamond (Out Now via Bandcamp)
It’s almost feels strange to stumble upon something that feels as warm and lived in as “Love’s Crushing Diamond”. Seven or eight years ago, not so strange - but in a year where everything feels like it’s some post-internet-post-instrument-post-post discovery that is some hip-hop-metal-twee amalgamation, I find myself kind of infatuated with the lo-fi beauty of a Boston band named Mutual Benefit. By no means am I decrying any artists who are reaching for new sounds and exploring unheard soundscapes for the betterment of us all, that’s not what this is at all. What I’m saying is that sometimes its nice to hear an album that brings out a sense of nostalgia within, when the sounds are new to you. It’s almost like talking with someone who grew up in the same town as you. There’s a shorthand to the sounds, that though unfamiliar, welcome you into it’s orbit and take you to a place that you may know, but haven’t visited in a while. There are a handful of bookmarks that catch my ears - sounds like the first Fleet Foxes record, or Sufjan Stevens' early work, or even some of the first albums of Devendra Banhart, but Mutual Benefit is not repeating the work of those artists in the least - they just come from a similar place and the result is equally admirable. Hearing a little less, brings out a little more.
"I Only Have Eyes For You" by Beck // Originally by Harry Warren & Al Dubin
There are songs from the past that just never age. “I Only Have Eyes for You” is one of those songs for me. It was originally recorded in 1934, but found like again in 50’s and 60’s through covers from Peggy Lee and later The Flamingos (the most popular version). In the late 90’s it was featured in one of my personal favorite episodes of Joss Whedon's “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and now it's being featured in Doug Aitken “Song 1” art installation for the Hirshhorn Museum in which he’s asked 6 artists to contribute covers of the song. Beck, being the most notable of those artists (others inclube No Age, Devendra Banhart, and High Places), also turns in the most traditional, and in turn, gorgeous, cover. Give it a spin (or head over to Pitchfork to hear all six) and get lost in the haunting, gorgeous, doo wop, pop gem that still feels fresh, but also lost in time. Highest recommendation.
north american halloween prevention initiative - DO THEY KNOW IT’S HALLOWE’EN?
Why are there not more awesome Halloween novelty songs for good songs? Sure, getting this group of people together was sort of like lightning striking a bolt of lightning that was wearing lightning shoes, but still. And for those of you who missed it the past five years, the N.A.H.P.I. is made up of:
Win & Regine from Arcade Fire, Karen O, Beck, David Cross, Buck 65, Devendra Banhart, Feist, Peaches, Jenny Lewis, Blake Sennett, Roky Erickson, Thurston Moore, Dan & Spencer from Wolf Parade, and many others…