The Joup Friday Album: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs

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Radio is my preferred method for listening to music. I love not knowing what song is coming next. An iPod on shuffle is not enough – I know everything I put on there. Streaming services try to figure me out, but make too many near-misses and end up throwing too many repeats at me to satisfy my need for musical surprises. In my teens, Chicago’s WXRT was in a golden age and kept me happy most of the time. In my twenties, an internet station called Desperate Radio was programmed by a man from Washington DC whose musical taste matched mine perfectly. In my thirties, British music paper NME hosted an internet station on their website that fulfilled my needs. And now, I end up flipping between a handful of satellite stations in my car.

The Joup Friday Album: Johnny Marr – Call the Comet

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As someone who always wanted to be able to play guitar well but never had the self-discipline to learn more than a handful of chords, I have always been in awe of my chosen guitar gods. My big three are the Cult’s Billy Duffy, John Squire from the Stone Roses, and Johnny Marr. Marr has spent the last 30 years standing around waifishly with a “Will strum for food” sign. Dozens of artists took him up on it, from alternative icons like Bryan Ferry, the Talking Heads, and The The, to bands whose profile he raised by signing on (Modest Mouse, the Cribs). Over the last five years he finally embarked on a solo career, releasing three albums under his own name, including the recently released Call the Comet. Oh, and he was also in the Smiths.

The Joup Friday Album: Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

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As someone whose preferred style of music (noisy or jangly guitars with catchy hooks) is deeply out of style at the moment, it’s rare that any artist comes along who catches my attention enough for me to even learn their name. I can’t think of an artist who has better managed to catch my attention in the last few years than Courtney Barnett. I heard her first single, “Avant Gardener” on the radio and liked it enough to turn it up every subsequent time I found it on the dial, enough to tell myself, “I should really download that EP so I can listen to it in the car,” but not enough to actually get around to downloading it.

The Joup Friday Album: The Smiths – The Queen is Dead

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We come to the final member of the Holy Trinity, The Smiths’ The Queen is Dead, which along with The Cure’s The Head on the Door and New Order’s Brotherhood, were the three albums I was given for Christmas when I was 13 that went on to influence my musical taste for the rest of my life. The Queen is Dead probably got the least play out of the three back then, but has proven to have the most staying power despite my ever-growing weariness with Morrissey and his… Morrisseyness. The simple truth is that I love the Smiths despite Morrissey, not because of him. Johnny Marr has been my lifelong guitar god and if I have to listen to an obnoxious narcissist bloviate over the top of him, it’s worth it to get those sweetass riffs and jangles.

The Joup Friday Album – Kasabian: For Crying Out Loud

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Music fandom is so much different in the 21st century than it was just 25 years ago. When I fell in love with a band as a teenager, I scoured magazine racks for the tiniest mention of them. Liner notes included addresses where I could write bands (no doubt cringe-worthy) letters telling them how much I liked them, and in return I’d get at least a sticker or newsletter back, and on some rapturous occasions, an actual letter back from a band member! Today, everything is online – you can learn everything you want to know about a band with a quick google search and the most you can hope for by way of interaction is a tweet.

The Joup Friday Album: Sparks “No. 1 in Heaven”

No1Cult legends never die; this is something that can absolutely be said in the case of Ron and Russel Mael, or as you know them (or don’t know them) Sparks. The Los Angeles based duo have been carving out a huge musical identity for themselves since 1968. It can be a daunting task getting into a band with a career as long as this and a discography that spans 23 studio records – including last years beyond stellar and underrated FFS collaboration record with Scottish Nu-wave revivalists Franz Ferdinand (which led to my exposure to Sparks). But Sparks pays off in huge dividends, and a great entry point is this record right here: 1979’s No.1 In Heaven.

The Joup Friday Album: Tame Impala – Currents

tameimpalaLevitation was cancelled due to weather.  I’m a sad panda.  Here’s your Friday album.

This week, rather than pick some album from my youth that has been instrumental to me as a person, or some culturally significant all-timer that deserves your infinite spins, I’m going with a more recent offering that’s just way too much fun to not listen to today.  And while someday, Australian rock band Tame Impala’s third album Currents may become a certifiable classic or pop cultural milestone (it’s certainly good enough), for now we’ll just call it a ridiculously good pop record that blends psych rock, dreampop, and slinky disco synth-pop in a way that recalls the best 80’s albums that were never actually made.  It’s retro chic, but in a timeless way, and I’ve been grooving steadily to it since last summer.

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