Welcome to Some Songs Considered, a music column that recognizes they can’t all be zingers and truly appreciates the ones that are.

***

Each week, I invite some hot name from the world of music to talk the coolest tunes. Today, Tony Porreco of the DC music podcast Hometown Sounds joins Bryce and I to chat about stifling nostalgia, lasting rediscoveries, and dicey territory.

Feast your ear-tongues on these music pops, this is Some Songs Considered: #064.

Some Song Lindsay Likes…

It’s Called…

“Do You Need My Love”

It’s By…

Weyes Blood

The PR Elevator Pitch…

Former freak rocker and noise musician Weyes Blood (Natalie Mering) reaches new heights and new musical territory in her breakout, Enya-meets-Joan Baez album, Front Row Seat to Earth.

In A Dream World They’d Be Touring With…

Father John Misty. These two dabble in classic, over-done music styles paired with biting, cynical realism and self-aware criticism. I think I’d understand both of them better if they shared a stage (or a studio).

I’m Pretty Sure Pitchfork Said…

Weyes Blood’s juxtaposition of 60s folk and sharp millennial insight has given us a fiercely unique and multi-layered album.

But, IMHO…

– Lindsay

Normally I would wait to write about an artist until I have it figured out, but this one has me so stumped I’m calling in outside resources…

The project of Natalie Mering, Weyes Blood has received a lot of attention for her album Front Row Seat to the Earth, and while I agree it’s beautiful, haunting, and perceptive, I’m struggling to contextualize it in our current music landscape, and therefore am struggling to enjoy it. Her voice is gorgeous, her aesthetic is thought-provoking, off-beat, and littered with funny, self-aware oddities. I love this. But her music is slow, serious, and heavily inspired by 60s and 70s folk balladry/Renaissance music. I don’t like this. The album’s baroque, sentimental sound comes off as detached and stiflingly nostalgic, homaging a sound that is so rooted in the past I’m struggling to relate to the insightful, millennial subject matter. Weyes Blood’s analytical and purposefully modern lyrical content and evocative videos just aren’t enough to get me on board the S.S. Troubadour.

So, as much as I want to join ranks and praise this record for its depth and success at sounding like nothing else in music right now, I have not yet felt what Weyes Blood (and Pitchfork, and NPR and DCDIT) wants me to feel. My problem could be that I’m trying too hard to fit Weyes Blood into already existing structures. Or maybe I’m struggling to tap into my own sentimental femininity. Or maybe the flowery folk of the 60s and 70s just creeps me out. Ultimately though, I feel like I’m missing out on some real wisdom from Natalie Mering. I don’t hate this record and I don’t like this record, but I also can’t stop listening to it. Friends, please help me though this.

They’ll Earn My $_:

$10 (cash) for her show in DC next month. You better believe I’m going to be working out my feelings in the front row. After that, we’ll see how I feel.

– Tony

Lindsay, I would not invest in a live Weyes Blood show if this track is in the same general ballpark of her other material; unless maybe it was a seated show. I guess, for me, it boils down to the fact that the music isn’t “exciting.” That’s not to say it’s not good or pretty or beautiful or whatever (the melody where she sings the hook is great), I just wouldn’t leap to stand in front of this band the way I stand in front of other bands. Rather, I’d sit and clap politely between numbers.

You’re right, the arrangement is fussy, ornate, baroque, but above all, it’s so British. But not “British Invasion” British; British in the way songs like “For No One”# and a fair amount of Odyssey and Oracle are so British. The veer to and from psych territory in the song’s second half successfully spins traditional gloom into prog creepiness, yet by its nature this song simply isn’t one you get heart-pumping stoked about.

They’ll Earn My $_:

$10, but only because they’re playing with Cigarette for that 11/7 show at The Dew Drop Inn.

– Bryce

Look, I’ve only fairly recently accepted that Joni Mitchell is more than just the scary witch lady my mom had a framed black-and-white picture of in the living room of our house#. To ask me to now make the mental leap of appreciating a less-talented, semi-parody of that genre is too much right now. There’s an election taking place in less than in a week.

That being said, I could easily see Ms. Mering stumbling onto a single that takes off on a Spotify heatseekers chart (my money’s on “Generation Why”#), and I actually loved her duet with fellow sonic time-traveller Drugdealer# so much I threw it on The Evening Commute playlist last week. But, in the end, this is a lot of forced context getting wrapped around some meh music (maybe why you’re struggling to contextualize it, Lindsay?) from a genre that I liked better the first time it came around.

They’ll Earn My $_:

All depends on how much she’s getting off that Drugdealer royalty deal, because I’ll be busy phone-banking for Hillary the evening of 11/7.

 

***

 

Some Song Bryce Likes…

It’s Called…

“NIV”

It’s By…

Lambchop

The PR Elevator Pitch…

Esteemed indie folk act discovers the power of Logic, becomes underappreciated electronic folk act.

Send This Track To…

Your friend who is overplaying the new Bon Iver album.

I’m Pretty Sure Pitchfork Said…

After two decades of whittling his poetic blend of southern folk, Kurt Wagner has ignited Nashville’s Lambchop with sizzling, crackling post-production.

But, IMHO…

– Bryce

Like the majority of people who are going to fall in love with this song/album (entitled FLOTUS, but meaning “For Love Often Turns Us Still”), I was previously unaware of Kurt Wagner’s Lambchop and their 20+ years plugging away as a respected but niche folk-ish act. It’s going to be interesting to see if this sonic left-turn of an album is a lasting rediscovery (e.g. Bon Iver, Bon Iver) or a passing fad (e.g. Age of Adz), but either way, like the real FLOTUS, I’m content just knowing it’s out there in the world doing its thing.

The rest of the album (available to stream on NPR) isn’t as up-tempo as the instantly-catchy “NIV,” though that might actually be a good thing, as the confident meandering from slow burns like “In Care of 8675309” to the lazy R&B of “JFK” helps affirm with a veteran’s aplomb that warped doesn’t always have to mean weird.

They’ll Earn My $_:

$15 to check this out live, hopefully at a Rock and Roll Hotel/Black Cat mainstage-sized venue.

– Tony

Man, I haven’t thought about Lambchop since 2012’s Mr. M, and the only track from it I can remember off the top of my head is the very dissimilar, lounge piano-grounded “If Not I’ll Just Die”#.

As someone who still hasn’t really processed/accepted/come to terms with Bon Iver’s 22, A Million, I really appreciate that “NIV” is an instance where the robo-folk goes down smooth from 0:01 to 4:35 (opposed to the former’s abrupt halts and absence of percussive elements). Juxtaposition against the new BI aside though, it’s just plain nice to have more song in terms of consistent musical backing and a steady beat alongside all the Auto-Tune.

Aside: I’d be a lot less cranky in the morning if I had the bleep-bloop riff section as my alarm clock.

They’ll Earn My $_:

$15, for the full live experience.

– Lindsay

This track’s weirdness and goodness grew on me with a few consecutive listens, and so did my surprise that this was Bryce’s track. If this album takes off with bigger audiences, I’ll view that as an indication that 22, a Million is an effective gateway drug to glitchier experimental stuff. However, while the Bon Iver comparison is apt, especially in the vocals, I could hear only Dan Deacon’s influence in the percussion.

For me, this track will fit the niche of “Chill Alternatives to Dan Deacon” for those days when I’m craving up-beat/off-beat electronics yet don’t have the stamina for Deacons’ electronic assault. On that note, I enjoyed the track “The Hustle”# a little more than “NIV”; it was easier to get lost in and had a more cohesive sound (but it is 18 minutes long, so in fairness I get why Bryce chose the latter).

They’ll Earn My $_:

Not sure I’d spend the money to check them out live, it’s a little too understated for that. But it’ll probably wrack up a fair amount of Spotify pennies.

***

 

Some Song Tony Likes…

It’s Called…

“Alright”

It’s By…

Young Summer

The PR Elevator Pitch…

New-ish pop artist filters restrained vocals through a sweet blur of light EDM.

Perfect For This Playlist…

“Summer Fun” (which doubles the rest of the rest of the year as the “Oh Shit, I Didn’t Get Around to Thinking About Music for the Company I’m Having Over” playlist)

I’m Pretty Sure Pitchfork Said…

Electronic pop up-and-comer Young Summer makes a bedazzled impression, with the right synths in the right places.

But, IMHO…

– Tony

Young Summer (Bobbie Allen) is an artist based in Washington DC making electronic-based pop, and “Alright” was the first single off her latest EP You Would Have Loved It Here. We featured it all the way back in July on Hometown Sounds, but I love being able to point to it knowing that odds are you’re either going to a) love it too or b) at the very least, respect it as pretty unobjectionable pop music.

The synths and electronic sound effects are so bright and numerous throughout, I actually once challenged myself to musically individuate its many parts. While I was able to figure out most of them on a guitar, I really don’t recommend doing it this way unless you’re a whizkid with a loop pedal (I’m not), as this is music specifically meant to be heard as a continuous intersecting of parts, rather than a melody fitting blandly over a flat bed of chords. Allen’s vocals are also mixed more alongside the thick backing instrumentation rather than above it, which fits with her description of the song as one that “articulates fear and insecurity but maintains a protective armor sonically with its confident, glossy production.”

Overall, I’d say this song is as good as many similarly-styled artists (e.g. Sky Ferreira, Carlie Rae Jepsen), and that’s a pretty high compliment, because I love that stuff.

They’ll Earn My $_:

$1.29. I’ll buy the song, but I’d need a good reason or some additional info to be induced to attend a live show (dicey territory of “a person hits play on a laptop vs. a cool, compelling experience”).

– Lindsay

I’ve said before that DC’s musically legacy is not conducive to pop. Go-go, hip-hop, and punk’s DIY aesthetic make Young Summer’s brand of shiny synth-pop a surprising outlier in this town. This is no reflection on the infectious qualities of her music, though; “Waves that Rolled You Under”# was my stand out DC pop gem of 2014, and this track’s sunnier retro-pop sound has the potential to overtake her last album in terms of undeniable earworms.

In all actuality, this city needs Young Summer in the rotation of local pop artists. Too often we foster pop talent only to lose it to NY or LA. So please, show us what you’ve got Bobbie. And if it’s good, don’t leave us too soon.

They’ll Earn My $_:

I’d spend a few bucks on a local-bill show at U Hall.

– Bryce

Speaking of pop acts that are getting too big for their DC britches, this reminds me of friends-of-the-pod SHAED. Maybe it’s the cooing, warm vocals or the penchant for reverb and natural harmonics with the guitar lines. Or maybe it’s that all these songs sort of sound the same after a while. But back to Young Summer…

For better or worse, there is always going to be an opening slot at the All Things Go Fall Classics of the world for an act like this. Sure, it might mean playing to semi-enthused, half-full crowds, but there’s a decent living for Allen to make if she can continue to churn out these kinds of inescapable melodies. Besides, no one stays Young forever.

They’ll Earn My $_:

I’m guessing like 5-7% of the total cost of my Fall Classic ticket each year.

 
 

***

For daily injections of songs worth considering, make sure to sign up for The Evening Commute, the Mon-Thurs newsletter that gives you “The Top 5 News Stories to Break While Your 9-5 Was Breaking You; Set to 5 Tunes That’ll Help Put You Back Together.”

And/or follow this month’s Evening Commute playlist on Spotify:

novembereveningcommuteplayistbegmonth