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Music

Let's Eat Grandma: Defying Commas And Expectations

Jun 26, 2017

There are sections of Highway 1 where the heart can leap out of your throat and into the Pacific Ocean, the California coastline so steep, the water so far and so blue, the beauty savage and mysterious. Walk long enough from the winding asphalt, into the woods, and this mystery endures, but thick and sky high, surrounded and enclosed. Seven years ago Fletcher Tucker moved here, to Big Sur, to make music as Bird By Snow and run his label Gnome Life Records. As Tucker fell more deeply into this environment — an "inhabitation," he calls it — he found songs instead of writing them.

Phoenix's sixth and latest album is called Ti Amo; in case you're rusty on your Italian, that means "I love you." And the record is filled with love. It also evokes Italian discos in the summertime — a surprisingly fun and lighthearted tone, given the tense times in which it emerged.

Rev. Sekou is a preacher, pastor and social activist with music in his blood. In this session Sekou is joined by the North Mississippi Allstars — whose members Luther and Cody Dickinson produced his new album, In Times Like These — for a performance recorded onstage at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.

Ah, the feelgood aura of The Beach Boys. We know it so well we just sorta melt into it – drifting into the idyllic reveries of "In My Room" and "God Only Knows," hardly focusing when one of those hot-wired surfing songs erupts from the radio. It's like a direct circuit to the brain: Hear those harmonies and in 3-2-1, there comes the little dopamine squirt affirming all is right with the world.

Algiers new album The Underside Of Power is one of 2017's most ambitious and intense records. I love it — but sometimes I have to just have to hit pause. There's a fierceness both in subject and sound and source, including speeches from Fred Hampton of the Black Panthers, bold and dark lyrical imagery of death and rage, sounds of people weeping, drones, chimes and what at times feels like the entire history of rock, gospel and R&B wrapped into fifty-one minutes. There's a lot to unpack here.

Kansas City native Kevin Morby relocated to Los Angeles a few years ago, but his latest album, City Music, is a dedication to another former home: New York City. Morby has a voice and perspective well beyond his 29 years, and we thoroughly enjoyed his live session.

SET LIST

  • "Crybaby"

Photo: Davis Bell/Winter LaMaster Photography.

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