So it has been far too long since my last post. Once I left New York last year, I found that my access to internet and the outside world is somewhat limited in Liberia. But it would be a mistake if I were to allow such a lapse to continue. So on to what I am listening to and reading these days while jogging through the jungles of Africa or lounging in the shade.
First off, a disclaimer. The views expressed in this blog are my own and in no way affiliated with the US Government or Peace Corps, they are simply my subjective views on music and writing, with the occasional smattering of social commentary. But for those of you looking for political views on life in West Africa, you are in the wrong spot my friends, check Al-Jazeera.
Ok, so here is my playlist for February. Not a lot of access to new music here but I manage to get by with a couple choice albums:
- The Roots “Make My” has grown on me, along with their entire new album Undun, which is definitely one of their best albums ever. The lyrics are masterful and the production on this album is refreshing for a group that has always embraced a more nuts and bolts groove. Plus, the end of the album has stuff that is reminiscent of the Philadelphia Experiment, which was awesome. Anyways, great song.
- Drake “Over My Dead Body” is a great song on an album with incredible production quality. The lyrics for Drake are less interesting to me than the Roots, but he is a clever cat and evokes a palpable mood. Oh, and he is from Canada, which is pretty unexpected.
- Also hailing from Canada is Broken Social Scene. Their song “7/4 (Shoreline)” off the 2005 album S/T is excellent, kind of reminds me of You Forgot It In The Peoplewhich had a dreamy ethereal quality to it while also providing something you can power-nod your head to while completing arbitrary tasks.
- Tennis is a recent discovery for me and I love everything they do. They have a new song out “Origins” which I am digging quite a bit. Hard not to fall in love with those vocals.
- Atlas Sound is not someone I listened to much before this month. I find that the character of his music is interesting but I get bored with it after a while and it fits only certain moods, like Toro y Moi. But I like his song “Te Amo.”
- M83 is another stargazy group from France and they have mastered poppy stargazing music that is incredibly catchy. I think dubstep is infiltrating everything including a little of this song “Midnight City.”
- James Blake’s “The Wilhelm Scream” is something that you should not listen to on your way to work, while jogging, or while hosting a cocktail reception. Grab some red wine, excellent speakers, and prepare to have your head cracked open like an egg. Unless you are totally boiled, the outpouring emotions will glue you to your seat and require you to keep listening to the album and, perhaps, repeat it one more time.
- Etta James “I Just Wanna Make Love to You” is simple. It’s insanely good and you will not be able to contain yourself from singing it out loud, that woman had pipes. Rest in peace.
Ok, now for reading. Everyone who lives in New York, has lived in New York, or wants to should go pick up a copy of William Dean Howells A Hazard of New Fortunes. The book, although published in 1890, is an incredibly relevant portrayal of the city that never sleeps and highlights so many of the realities of New York living that make it one of the most loved and hated places in the world. Although A Hazard of New Fortunes deals with the crisis of conscience the reader observes in Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, Howells shows us New York from several different characters perspectives, providing a rich interplay of how the wealthy, the poor, the educated, and the hoi polloi (so to speak) all share in the experience. Most importantly, Howells touches on the unique ability of New York to keep in check all self-aggrandizing and to enrich the unsuspecting:
“…because there seems to be some solvent in New York life that reduces all men to a common level, that touches everybody with its potent magic and brings to the surface the deeply underlying nobody. The effect for some temperaments, for consciousness, for egotism, is admirable.”
Also, reading all of Hemingway’s work at the moment and highly recommend A Moveable Feast.
That’s it for this month, more to come.