Five Songs, 5/4/2017

Sorry about six songs yesterday. I don't know what I was thinking! I was intoxicated with power, I guess. It won't happen again! At least, until next time. Y'all just missed "Cop" by Swans here, by the way. I'm sure they'll be back soon, though. In the meantime, enjoy today's selection.

They Might Be Giants, "Stuff is Way"

I divide They Might Be Giants into five eras: pre-Elektra, the Elektra years, post-Elektra, the kid album years, and the current era. Note that even during the kid album years, they put out a couple of non-kid albums (2004's The Spine and 2007's The Else), so things aren't really that neatly divided here. But, personally, I saw something of a creative renaissance after those years of mostly kid records (which are mostly very good, by the way), starting with 2011's Join Us and continuing to the album this song is from, 2013's Nanobots. If you fell off the TMBG train a couple decades ago, those two records are something to look into.

(previously, previously)

The Minus 5, "Twilight Distillery"

At what point does a side project become not a side project? The Minus 5 is Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows and a rotating case of pretty illustrious collaborators (REM's Peter Buck, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of the Posies, Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, a bunch of others), playing mostly pop songs, but with McCaughey's usual wit and deft touch. If there's a distinction to be made between the Fellows and the Minus 5, it's that the latter is a little bit slower, a little more cerebral. But the difference are minor, and if you like one band, you'll probably like the other. At any rate, the Minus 5 are now something like nine albums in, so I think they're probably not a side project any more.

Bob Marley, "Redemption Song"

This is a rare Marley song that is not a reggae track, but is instead a quiet acoustic ballad. It was also the final song on what turned out to be his final record, so it serves in some ways as his epitaph, his last statement. Marley was, of course, a tremendous artist and if you've only ever listened to Legend, you're missing out on some amazing stuff. But, um, this song of course does appear on Legend, so you haven't missed this song, at least if you've been anywhere near a college party any time in the last several decades.

Madlib, "Distant Land"

Madlib, one of the most relentlessly inventive producers in the hip hop underground, was given the incredible opportunity to go into the archives of legendary jazz label Blue Note and remix whatever he found there however he wanted. He made the most of the opportunity, producing a jazz/hip hop crossover record that is just so much fun to listen to. As always, I'm not qualified to write about jazz, but I do enjoy this album an awful lot.

Pegboy, "Revolver"

Pegboy are a Chicago punk band that formed when Naked Raygun collapsed, continuing to carry the torch for straight ahead punk rock. It's nothing that you probably haven't heard before, but still enjoyable. This is probably the wrong track to introduce them, though, since this is a pretty faithful cover of a Mission of Burma song. So if you love this song, go look up Mission of Burma instead. They're a better band anyway.