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.

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.

July 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 15 times.

This month’s liked tracks started out with a deep cut from the Kinks and ended with Al Green by way of a fairly eclectic mix of artists and styles.

A decent chunk of the tracks are by NZ artists that featured on The Local List NZ. Not all the tracks are my usual style but they all caught my ear enough for me to want to play them a few times. The Kelsy Karter‘s Harry has an infectious, dumb chorus that’ll get stuck in your head for days. And the Stick To Your Guns hits all the hair metal power ballad buttons. Stupid Crazy by eleven7four really isn’t that good when I think about it but I never hit the skip button. The best track of the kiwi ones is Call You Out by deryk, who seems to be being hyped as the the next Lorde. It’s a good song, more Portishead than Lorde.

Other tracks are a mix of old-to-me songs that I hadn’t put on the liked list. The Amanda Palmer cover of The Mess Inside comes from a compilation that accompanied the first season of I Only Listen To The Mountain Goats. I think I prefer this version to the original.

July was a fun month for me music-wise. I’m looking forward to what August brings.

June Tracks, 2020

I use an IFTTT applet that adds tracks that I’ve saved on Spotify to a monthly playlist. In June I tapped the heart icon 11 times.

June was not a month where I paid much attention to music. I normally start giving the playlist for the current a decent amount of play in the last week and carry that through the start of the next one but the opportunities didn’t come up this month.

The best “new to me” song was Cumberland Gap by David Rawlings along with Gillian Welch. It’s a cracking tune, the opener for the latest Guy Ritchie flick, The Gentlemen. I enjoyed the film but song stuck with me.

The rest of the tracks are good individually, but the whole playlist is kinda weird and meh. July has been pretty slim pickings so far, but hopefully it’ll include some gems.

May Tracks, 2020

I use an IFTTT applet that adds tracks that I’ve saved on Spotify to a monthly playlist. In May I tapped the heart icon 15 times.

I haven’t listened to this playlist yet. I can’t remember some of the tracks. The Wilco deep cut, and the Weyes Blood song? No idea.

Manowar, though. I’ve remember listening to the kings of metal a lot over the last couple weeks. To quote John Peel, they’re “a breath of foul air.”

For some reason WordPress can’t embed the playlist, but that doesn’t matter. Everyone, go listen to Manowar.

April Tracks, 2020

I use an IFTTT applet that adds tracks that I’ve saved on Spotify to a monthly playlist. In April I tapped the heart icon 19 times.

This was the first month of full lockdown and I actually thought I’d added more songs. I guess my listening went back to more comfort food? Dunno.

It’s a funny old list. Plenty of tracks that I’ve loved a long time: your Lambchops and Bill Callahans.

Hackensack is my favourite Fountains of Wayne songs. Of course I put it on after I found out the news about Adam Schlesinger. I read Tom Breihan’s warm tribute to Schlesigner’s work a couple times.

I fell in love with Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa a few years ago when a Vampire Weekend festival performance was on telly.

I was listening to a playlist on a run when The Only Living Boy In New York came on and it struck me as the right tone for lockdown. It’s a great song.

It looks like May might be about new music. There’s a new Hinds track out. The new Car Seat Headrest album is out and I’m not sure what to think of it yet. Antonie Tonnon and Beastwars have new music on Bandcamp.

What are you listening to?

March Tracks, 2020

The The - This Is The Day (HD) - YouTube

I use an IFTTT applet that adds tracks that I’ve saved on Spotify to a monthly playlist. In March I tapped the heart icon 24 times.

What a month March, 2020 turned out to be. Like much of the planet I spent the second half of the month isolated at home, checking the news a lot, trying to work, and listening to a lot of comfort music.

Once the PM announced a real, proper lockdown I kindof relaxed a bit. Put on new stuff. Chucked on the more obscure radio streams. Some good stuff was found.

My eight year old daughter picked up on The The’s This Is The Day so let’s put that down as the favourite track. You can listen to all the songs on Spotify or in the embedded player below. I guess a Spotify sub is required.

An aside about The The. In the early 2000s I was “the technical guy” at a small company that ended up running an online music store. We used an open source project to manage the catalog and commerce. I had to modify it a bit suit the music content and display different store fronts but it was a pretty great tool.

The search functionality relied on the database’s full text search functionality. Out of the box the full text search wouldn’t index stop words (things like a, the, and, or) or words shorter than four characters. This meant customers searching for “U2” or “the the” didn’t find any results.

It was relatively easy to come up with a way to make “U2” searchable. “The The” required more work, including installing a custom build of the database. It was more effort than it was probably worth but I figured it out! I was quietly proud when you could find “The The” in our search box but not on quite a few other, more popular, e-commerce stores.

I would be very surprised if we sold more than one The The disc.

February Tracks, 2020

Listen to The Wolf by Shooter Jennings on Spotify

I use an IFTTT applet that adds tracks that I’ve saved on Spotify to a monthly playlist. In February I tapped the heart icon 24 times.

Another relatively eclectic mix, I guess.

My favourite “new to me” track is Shooter Jennings’s cover of Walk Of Life. That was my first ever favourite song. I was ten and I danced with a girl I “liked” while it played. This version is fucking great.

Listen to Satch Plays Fats by Louis Armstrong on Spotify

After watching a bunch of Amoeba Records What’s In My Bag videos, I went on a Satch Plays Fats kick for a few days. A few tracks are from that rabbit hole.

Fade Into You wasn’t already in my liked tracks and the day I after I added it the news that David Roback had died came out.

You can listen to the full playlist below.

January Tracks, 2020

I use an IFTTT applet that adds tracks that I’ve saved on Spotify to a monthly playlist. In January I tapped the heart icon 14 times.

January was a month of camping and travel. I didn’t play a whole lot of stuff deliberately until the last few days when I went of something of a later-Wilco trip, triggered by getting a copy of Uncut magazine’s Wilcovered covers collection.

I’ve been Wilco (The Album) the short shrift for a decade. It’s an excellent collection of songs and stands up as well as anything Wilco have put out. Tracks from it make up half the playlist. Bull Black Nova is probably my favourite.

Pearl Jam released Dance Of The Claiirvoyants in January. Pearl Jame are trying a new direction and style with this track. I listened to it a few times the day it came out and liked it. But I couldn’t even hum it now, so maybe tapping the heart icon was premature?

The rest of the top tracks are a hangover from sitting in the sun with random “radio” streams on in the background. Favourite among those is Holly by Aussie muso Hayley Mary.