May was a marvelous month for music.
My soundtrack for this summer will feature the full-length albums Rome, Circuital and Blood Pressures looping along each day with single shots from Peter Bjorn and John, Keren Ann, Yelle, Panda Bear and Toro y Moi.
The new Danger Mouse production with Jack White, Norah Jones and Daniele Luppi delivers spaghetti-western vibes with bootfuls of soul-filled, scratchy lyrics. White has been a hands-in-the-air favorite of mine since discovering him in high school as a way to break free from my Zeppelin addiction. It came as no surprise to me that the Detroit rocker’s tracks on Rome remain my top-played.
My Morning Jacket followed up Evil Urges, which surprised me with doses of Prince and pop injected into their jams, with a record that I knew on first listen will stay permanently in place on my iPod. Circuital lifts you into an atmosphere you don’t want to descend from, spinning seamlessly from a balls-out electric ballad to an acoustic number that’ll numb you.
Upping the ante as they’re prone to do, the big gamble the Kills took on their latest disc was making it more accessible. And it paid off. Blood Pressures revs your ticker for a few tracks before scaling back to a stripped down melody to let you catch your breath. I must confess I now fancy Alison Mosshart more with Jamie Prince and the Kills than with White and The Dead Weather.
For those sun-soaked afternoons this season, my new go-to is The Head and The Heart. I’ll leave the IPAs in the fridge, grab something more along the lines of PBR, throw a few on ice and relax in the rays as the waves roll in. “Down in the Valley” and “Lost in My Mind” are perhaps unbeatable, straddling singer-songwriter with a foot in indie country.
Speaking of the latter genre, which I had essentially cast off into oblivion years ago …
Maybe it’s my Midwestern roots surfacing, but there was a lot more Rooster Country crowin’ through my truck’s speakers last month. Don’t get me wrong, I still carry a heavy disdain for all that twang and I cringe even more when they try to polish it to be palatable to the masses. I’d rather custom-tailor a swift end to my ear drums that subject them to the torture of Taylor Swift.
But I dare say some of the tunes on the station had me singing along halfway through the song, reaching behind my seat for my straw cowboy hat and wondering where I might be able to score a good pair of paniolo boots on Kaua‘i.