You might have heard me plug the band Fanfarlo on here in the past (here, here and here). If not, no worries. I’ll catch you up. I dig Fanfarlo. Now that we’re up to speed, I should let you know that Fanfarlo released a new record today called Let’s Go Extinct. It’s a more unified sound than their past records — though everything they’ve done all hinges around the kind of mid-tempo pop music perfected by the Talking Heads. Let’s Go Extinct could be read as a kind of concept album, but I haven’t had enough time with it to really consider whether that notion carries.
I acquire a lot of music. This may come as no surprise. All of it ends up in files on my computer. CDs get ripped into iTunes, vinyl records come with download codes. Emusic and Amazon offer their own headaches. No matter how meticulous I might be about maintaining my files, it all ends up in one big clusterfuck. There are no happy endings in the curation of digital media.
I’m only one dude. I essentially have four jobs. I have no idea when I find the time to listen to enough music to come up with 100 favorite tracks. My 2013 playlist contains more than 7 days worth of music. And that doesn’t even count all the stuff I check out on Spotify and dismiss. But even with all that listening, it’s blind, dumb, stupid luck when a certain song catches my fancy. On some occasions, a song is thrust in my face with the force of the 800 lb. mainstream music machine and those songs must endure hundreds of listens. Staying power, m’f’ers. See: Arcade Fire, Daft Punk. Other times I fall instantly in love with a record. The songs grab me immediately. Those are the easy ones. The bands and the songs I control. See: Frightened Rabbit, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Polica. And then there’s that final category. Hearing a song, being in the right frame of mind to accept its advances. You might hear a song a dozen times before it catches you at just the right moment. See: half the songs on this list. For every great song on this list, there are hundreds of equally worth songs that I just couldn’t hear. And to those songs, I’m so sorry. So, so, so sorry. Try harder next time. Everyone else, enjoy the list. Find some new music. Support great artists and so on and so forth.
The comeback had been festering, just beneath the surface, for a number of years now, but 2013 may finally have brought about a pop music renaissance. I’m not talking about Top 40 – the days that permitted consistently “good” music on the Top 40 charts have long since disappeared. The term “pop music” doesn’t need to be derogatory – it should imply a level of accessibility, not the derivative and over-produced slush we’ve come to associate with the term. The new wave has been inspired by the deep wellspring of 1980’s pop sensibilities. Hall & Oates. Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks. Tears for Fears. The Pet Shop Boys. New Order. Bands that crafted solid tunes. Lyrics. A catchy hook. A solid beat.
We/Or/Me is Bahhaj Taherzadeh, a Chicago-based singer-songwriter that deserves your attention, but he’s pretty okay if he doesn’t get it. Of course, like any artist he wants to find a following that appreciates the work he’s doing, but there’s a grounded realism about his approach to writing and recording music – he understands that he’s one of many talented voices all vying for your fractured attention.