Childish Gambino – Freaks and Geeks
Since Childish Gambino is the rapper alter ego of comedian Donald Glover, you’d be forgiven for initially assuming that this song was a comedy novelty rap (I did). And yes, the lines in here are quite funny, but not in a Weird Al sort of way. He’s crass, sexually explicit and witty as hell, with a beat that holds the whole thing together. The EP that carries this track (go here to download for free, legally) is solid all around, though admittedly the lyrical content leans on the emo-side of rap (this isn’t Outkast). “Freaks and Geeks” is the standout track, but if you like it, you’ll enjoy more of what he has to offer.
Justice – D.A.N.C.E.
It’s like the Jackson 5 had an elicit, possibly illegal threesome with Jamiroquai and Daft Punk. If you aren’t sold based on that description, may God have mercy on your soul.
Loudon Wainwright III – One Man Guy
I love Rufus Wainwright. He is one of my favorite singer/songwriters (second after Ryan Adams). He does an amazing cover of this song, and gives it an extra level of meaning because he is gay. But, recently, I’ve been interested in the music of his father, Loudon. Talk about a talented family: Loudon, his wife Kate McGarrigle and their kids Rufus and Martha (and poor Lucy Wainwright Roche, too, having to live up to that pedigree). Is this a situation where the cover is better than the original? Maybe. But there is undeniable power in the original version, especially for me, as it is a song about living a solitary life. Quite simply, I relate.
Adele – Someone Like You
Holy crap is this song beautiful. If every pop song were this effortlessly gorgeous and affecting, hipsters would have nothing to hate. Every few years, a song comes about that fully captures the melancholy of a relationship (good or bad) ending. This is it.
Go ahead, listen to it again.
Sufjan Stevens – All Delighted People (Original Version)
Sufjan Stevens released an official album last year (The excellent, engrossing, “The Age of Adz”), and there are songs on it that I adore. Yet, I keep coming back to the title track of the pre-album EP he released shortly beforehand. Taken together, both albums are strikingly different and strangely complementary. While not as immediately enticing as “Illinois” (or “Come On Feel the Illinoise” if you insist), Sufjan’s 2010 input is easily as rewarding.
But, it’s this sprawling, schizophrenic, nearly 12 minute long piece of stricken majesty that I return to most of all. Usually Sufjan compartmentalizes his music, presenting either the achingly personal or exploring the world through grandiose, detached narratives. Here, he manages to combine the miniscule and the epic in one perfect song. J’aime.
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
These mighty bearded ones are Indie darlings, especially among the folky set. And for that reason, they should be on the top of my list of beloved bands, and yet I’ve never really gotten into them. Don’t get me wrong, I like their sound and the few songs of theirs that I have on my computer I enjoy thoroughly, but I’ve never been all that enticed to buy an album. Well, this is the first single from their new album (of the same name), and it’s making me seriously consider buying it the day it comes out in May. So good. It’s like a journey through blooming woods in the first weeks of spring.