Monday Mixtape: Nathaniel Rateliff, Digable Planets, and the Worst Band I've Ever Seen Perform Live
Every Monday, I pick a handful of tracks that have been floating through my headspace. Most will be new, some will be old, and all will be great. This is the Up All Afternoon Monday Mixtape.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, "You Worry Me"
Rateliff is a super bearded dude from Colorado with a penchant for Southern-fried hooks and a sweet, soulful croon. His band's brand new second album Tearing at the Seams is a bit more subdued than their debut (there's no shouting "Son of a bitch! Get me a drink!"), but there remains a smoldering intensity and a sweetness at the heart of the mountain crunch.
Digable Planets, "Where I'm From"
If you've got a rap record that samples jazz and puts a laconic flow over the top of it, I've probably declared you transcendent. Digable Planets are often thought of as one-hit also rans (though their one hit, "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)," is a million times groovier than 99 percent of the A Tribe Called Quest catalogue), but their debut album Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space) just got the 25th anniversary treatment and it drives home how consistently fierce the team was. Listen to how dynamic "Where I'm From" gets, and bask in the nervous chill of the slippery back beat.
Years & Years, "Sanctify"
At the 2015 SXSW Festival, I attended a showcase for Palladia, the live music arm of MTV Networks (which is now known as MTV Live). I specifically went to see Elle King, but there were a handful of other acts on the bill that piqued my curiosity. Years & Years were not one of those acts, though they were arguably experiencing the most prototypical SXSW arc: They already had a massive smash in their native England, and their arrival as a pop force was considered imminent (and SXSW would provide the first act of that unfolding drama). They were late, then ran into equipment trouble, and by the time they started I was already hostile toward their bland appropriation of a bunch of already dull dance pop tropes. They sucked and I hated them, and I wrote as much on Entertainment Weekly's website. My editor got yelled at by a publicist because I said I hated them, but three years on they have new music and it still sucks and I still hate them.
Lucy Dacus, "Addictions"
There's an amazing trendlet happening right now where female singer-songwriters who also shred are getting their records made and heart. So kudos to Courtney Barnett, Alex Lahey, Marnie Stern and this Virginian who weaves dense narratives through PJ Harvey-cool noise.
Spacehog, "Beautiful Girl"
Spacehog's second record The Chinese Album turned 20 years old over the weekend. It's the classic second record following a one-hit wonder: The songs are denser, the melodies spacier, and there's a narrative attached about a musician who gets exiled from California and has to go live in China (which may or may not be on another planet). "Beautiful Girl" is the album closer, and it's perfect, and this is dedicated to my wife because she is.