Spins 2023: Vol 7

Vol 7: Comfort Foods

Sometimes only lyrics can bring salve against the world’s absurdity, so no wordless vinyl made it to the turntable in this edition. I kinda needed to escape to the familiar of late, and there is no warmer embrace than some fav records, no?

I can’t eat vinyl, but if I could, there’s a ton of comfort food in my collection. Every groove a space to find through-lines and connections to past and present me.

I can spin a record and feel grounded. Amazing how that works, yes?

Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel: 3 aka “Melt Face” (1980)

For deep sentimental reasons, my desert island Gabriel will always be So (1986). This record, however, never fails to inspire me to look at the world with a different lens. It’s political without being preachy, personal without being cloying, and prog without being pretentious.

The way The Cars bridged Glam to me, Peter Gabriel bridged Prog. He’s like a spoke and a hub.

Also, Steve Lillywhite is the unsung hero of New Wave Producers.

Aaron Tasjan – Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan! (2021)

The single Up All Night got all warranted attention off this a couple years ago, and for good reason. It’s an anthemic anti-anthem – as in, “Sure, sing along. Or don’t. Because IDGAF, and neither should you.” You have to be a strong songwriter and even stronger person to pull off this line:

Broke up with my boyfriend
To go out with my girlfriend
Cause love is like love is like love is like that…

The whole record just shimmers with moments of clarity and self-awareness that buck all the myths dogging young folks today. Don’t Overthink It, Computer of Love, and Now You Know are sneaky standouts here. As the song cycle closes, you’re left with the gnawing realization that we really did teach a whole generation of kids not to live in the moment. Good thing they weren’t really listening. Or, in Tasjan’s case, he was listening, but didn’t buy any of that crap.

The The – Soul Mining: 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (1983 / 2013)

The remixes disc in the 2013 re-release of Soul Mining is revelatory. One would think an extended Uncertain Smile that cuts out the original’s piano solo would would feel like a donut with too much hole. BBut luckily, a sweet sax wells up in its place, and you hear the rest of the song’s parts shine on for 10 glorious minutes. The whole disc is like musical Rashomon with my first memories of listening to it.

Hatchie – Giving The World Away (2022)

A lush record for gorgeous people who dream in shoegaze and lose themselves in the eyes of lovers. I am a sucker for anyone who shrouds their music in weightless clouds of reverie and wry observation, with alternating touches of ennui and compassion. Washes over you like Cocteau Twins and memories of your innocence.

Willie Nelson – The Sound In Your Mind (1976)

A record that collects some of my fav Willie tunes and gives them definitive arrangements. It’s where I first heard I’d Have To Be Crazy and Lucky Old Sun, a couple tracks that I never tire of hearing or playing. It’s not “groundbreaking” Willie, but it’s “wistful” Willie on the highest level, and pretty much a prototype for every post Red Headed Stranger record he made for a couple decades. He’s never weighed down by darkness (or, at least the characters in his songs are not). They always find the glimmers of sunlight, and a double-edged smile in the worst of times.

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