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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.