So it goes and so it goes, and in some bleak moments, the world seems a bit more abrasive this year. Sometimes I retreat entirely into art and fiction, absorbing as much beauty and weirdness as I can before having to emerge to responsibility. It’s inevitable, it’s cathartic. It’s where things change.
This week seemed to rush by, with the dying embers of summer swirling all around me. It’s been flush with great music, lots of bicycling, and a really fantastic sandwich.
A pair of short hip-hop albums defined my listening, along with a darkly mysterious little techno release that I’ll share. But most of all, I watched the Netflix show Stranger Things in its entirety. I was utterly floored.
This week brought some genuine surprise to the music world. Frank Ocean finally crashed the hype train into public view, dropping his long-awaited sophomore album on a weekend night. After four years, nobody expected it to appear so randomly, but here we are.
This is the state of music in 2016. The pendulum of control is truly swinging back in favor of the artists. Everything else I discovered this week was courtesy of the artists themselves, broadcasting personally on Twitter, Bandcamp, and other open platforms.
I haven’t posted a weekly update in a while, so it’s about time. A lot happened, but I’ll stick to the highlights.
I hung out in wine country, biked about 500 miles, and finally saw my Japanese metal superheroes Boris in concert. Then I found myself on an extended deep dive into all the 60s jazz that I skipped over in the past. This total immersion is resulting in another evolution of taste.
Lately I’ve had to remind myself that, in the long run, art has always said more about humanity than the news ever has.
This is one idea that’s helping keep me sane and clearheaded as 2016 rolls on. It’s also something that motivates and inspires me. Let’s see what else helped this week.
It’s been a violent week in America. Violence by police. Violence against police. The country’s long gone mad. All I can offer is a quote from one of my favorite films, Days of Heaven:
The whole earth is goin’ up in flames. Flames’ll come out of here and there and they’ll just rise up. The mountains are gonna go up in big flames, the water’s gonna rise in flames. There’s gonna be creatures running every which way, some of them burnt, half their wings burning. People are gonna be screaming and hollerin’ for help. See, the people that have been good, they’re gonna go to heaven and escape all that fire. But if you’ve been bad God don’t even hear you. He don’t even hear you talking.
In the lead-up to the big 4th of July holiday weekend, I’ve spent almost every night working on a new mixtape. I’ve finally got my passion for mixing back and it feels incredible. Instead of months or years between tapes, I hope to make them a regular feature here.
However, this latest mix isn’t quite ready yet. It needs a little more polish before I publish next week. In the meantime, I want to share the best new music I’ve been into all week. At least one of these three things will make your hair stand on end.