Listen to Bill Callahan and Friends

In 2020 Bill Callahan and Will Oldham released a lot of covers and collabs that Sasha Frere-Jones dubbed Bill Communication, the best name of anything in that year of years. The songs are eclectic and generally pretty great. Spotify also streams a bunch of singles by Callahan, and helpfully links his artist profile on collaborations with other artists.

I’ve collected all the singles, collabs, and Bill Communication tracks into a Spotify playlist named Bill Callahan and Friends. I’ve been listening to it as I potter around the kitchen this morning. Some of the songs are brand new to me and I am enjoying them very much.

I’m so grateful I can listen to excellent music as I round out a COVID free summer break. If you’re stuck at home, I hope this playlist makes your day a little bit better.

Plastic Bouquet, my favourite album of 2020

It’s a late entry but Plastic Bouquet by Kacy & Clayton and Marlon Williams has snuck in to be my album of the year.

This Paste Magazine review sums up why it clicked for me:

For years, both Williams and Kacy & Clayton have been rising in the world of roots music, thanks in part to their shared leanings toward throwback sounds. And on Plastic Bouquet, their styles merge seamlessly, which is a word that’s overused to describe music these days. In this case, though, it perfectly captures these musicians’ complete coalescence.

The Music’s review seems right too:

The mood of Plastic Bouquet is sentimental and sincere, but occasionally playful, as Williams and Anderson embrace country’s tragic romance tropes. Deceptively jaunty, the opener Isn’t It reveals conflicted emotions. In the poppy Light Of Love, Anderson evokes Lana Del Rey with her soulful vibrato. Williams comes to the fore on the plaintive lead single I Wonder Why, with steel guitar. Old Fashioned Man is an arch prairie duet with contemporary ironising, with Anderson almost yodelling.
Williams also notably draws from his Māori heritage, with a distinctly Polynesian take on country – here, accentuating harmonies. In the quietly dramatic atmosphere of Arahura, he croons an ode to the South Island river of the same name, a spot known for its precious (and coveted) pounamu (greenstone). The darkest and most intimate moment arrives in the haunting ballad Devil’s Daughter, with Anderson showing her narrative flair.

August Tracks, 2020

I use an IFTTT applet that adds tracks that I’ve “liked” on Spotify to a monthly playlist. In June I tapped the heart icon 20 times.

Towards the end of August and in the first week of September I pretty much only listened to Siamese Dream. It been one of those months.

I started off the month on a kind of Americana trip, listing from country hip-hop to local country acts. I only found out about Delaney Davidson last year, when his album with Barry Saunders came out. It’s a cracker.

Random tunes made up the latter half. Kanye and Tay Tay. An old Flaming Lips tune. All over the show and yet all totally my MO, most notably Push Push (Lady Lightning) by Bang Camaro, a ridiculous band I would totally love to see live.

I was dubious but the playlist actually holds up as I listen to it typing this a couple weeks later.. My favourite song in the list is by the 3Ds, of course. But that Jimmie Allen/Nelly track is pretty great, too.