Friendly sounds from February

*Disclaimer: Not all these songs are new -- some I just found in whatever month this is for. OK cool let’s all shut up and read about music.

**Also my friend Edgar just dropped a dope-ass book of poetry called Tap Out! Check it out.

Hey! I’m back with more songs. Yeah, I know: We’re already halfway through March and you’re talking about February? Well, I had stuff to do. No, I didn’t watch “Pen15” twice instead of writing this free blog. Also, there are no rules and I have no editor so I can do whatever I want hahahaha.

“Peaches,” Delicate Steve

Most lyric-less guitartists like Delicate Steve would have be relegated to the Realm of Obscure Session Players in the pre-streaming days. But damn, am I glad he’s not. “Peaches” could back some molasses-mouthed country singer’s best shot at a blues single, but I prefer it like this: all horizon and highway, instrumentally open to whatever thoughts you want to stuff inside it. Yeehaw.

“Premonitions,” Miya Folick

Another thing about streaming? Pop music has a lot more latitude to be weird and auteur-y. Case in point is right here, a sleek little sidewalk bop with a hook worthy of a Celestial Seasoning’s tea tag or the kind of poorly translated bon mot a mysterious heroine might drop in an anime before disappearing behind a bookshelf: “To be truly kind, challenge my mind.”

“Without A Blush,” Hatchie

Oh shit, am I a six year old that’s afraid of half of the songs on MTV? Because this Hatchie song feels (and looks) like it fell off the “Clueless” soundtrack. Anyone who’s seen my hair in the last year knows that I am all about retro fetishism and embrace frizz, so play on, Hatchie.

“UFOF,” Big Thief

In a niche corner of the niche music obsessives that I text/email and sometimes even actually talk to with my voice, there’s a secret consensus: Big Thief is the best band. Not the best “indie” band or whatever -- just the best band. Adrianne writes songs like a fart therapist at a chili festival: so much empathy, so much bravery. (What the hell am I writing? Whatever, keeping it.) Her perspective is otherworldly, so this song’s text feels particularly on brand. Imagine if Fleetwood Mac was born today, on a beach near a boiling ocean. Reduce. Pour over headphones.

“Loving Machine,” TV Girl

This is just kind of a fun one that popped up on my Spotify. Reminds me of that mid-aughts sound that Jens Lekman and The Radio Dept. and Old Navy commercials made into a thing. A thing that I listened to obsessively. So it goes here.

“At Least The Sky Is Blue,” Ssion, Ariel Pink

Came across this one while in a music video hole. (Please, please, watch this music video. It’s got Ariel Pink dressed up as Liza Minnelli for freak’s sake.) Recommended if you like Tokyo Drifting your Lamborghini Countach across the infinite streets of San Junipero with a geriatric’s hot avatar slumped on your shoulder.

“Pa’lante,” Hurray For The Riff Raff

This song is a lesson to us streaming music schmoes: Listen to the last track on the album. I listened to this album a lot when it came out in 2017, but somehow hadn’t heard this song until a couple of weeks ago. It’s full-bodied musical poetry, personal and political, and the reverb on the piano makes it sound like she’s playing in a dark cavern inside of her chest.

“Chasin’ Kendall,” Stefon Harris, Blackout

I texted my friend Ari (hi, Ari) about jazz genres recently. See, Ari knows a lot more about jazz than I do, so I thought I’d ask him for some help with words to describe this certain kind of jazz so I could find more of it. What he gave me was a bitch slap in the form of a hyperlink:

“You see, genre is not a Black thing, neither is race. These are European constructs that were designed to divide, classify and marginalize. Race and genre establish false hierarchal systems that engenders an environment of entitlement for some and exclusion for others.”

Damn! I just wanted to know how to find some funky, marimba-forward instrumentals to play while I showered, Ari. But it’s an interesting point, one I hadn’t really considered before. The student remains the student. (Until the day he accidentally calls all Pokemon “Pikachus.” Then it’s on.)

One other great thing that came out of that text exchange? This fine piece of vibraphone-heavy Black American Music.

“Free,” Sasami, Devendra Banhart

I’m a sucker for well-done demo-y rawness. This jam from Sasami and folk sage Devendra Banhart is all that. They get it, too: “You say you’re older so you know / There’s nothing wrong with a half-finished song.” A shivering guitar and arpeggiated tambourine bear witness. But otherwise, it’s just you and them.

“Split,” Peewee Longway, Brodinski

Arm and Hammer finally gets the Hennessy treatment. Sometimes, the only thing that hits the spot is a rascally rap song about stomping on drugs. This is one of those times.

“Moonshade,” Branson Anderson

My other friend Lauren (hi, Lauren) passed this fella on to me. His songs have a real ramshackle vibe, like if you squished Dr. Dog into one person and recorded them inside of a kitchen dedicated to jarring apple preserves. (That’s a good thing, by the way.) If you’re trying to come down off of a Shakey Graves bender, this song makes for good landing gears.