Listening recommendations from the past, present, Portland and the periphery.
Known tragically in the States only for “Come On Eileen”—admittedly one of their best songs—Dexys Midnight Runners are beloved in Britain for their three markedly different albums. Too-Rye-Ay is the one with “Eileen” and a Celtic flair, and Don’t Stand Me Down is the polarizing cult classic, but for our money the best is 1980′s Searching for the Young Soul Rebels, a horn-choked classic that proves big bands and tight arrangements aren’t necessarily antithetical to the bare-knuckle spirit of early U.K. punk.
Brooklyn artist L’Rain works in an increasingly popular style in experimental music: lots of samples from everyday life, few divisions between tracks, a sense of liberation from genre and structure. What makes her new album, Fatigue, stand out, even on one of the most crowded release days in recent memory, is how it approaches pop: No matter how dark and dense her soundscapes grow, she always sings like a folkie or a soul singer. It’s bold and expressionistic yet still somehow accessible.
Ripley Johnson’s Rose City Band has finally released its debut full-length of rich, comfortable, deeply cosmic country. Earth Trip isn’t available in full on Spotify, but you can stream it on Bandcamp—then head to Johnson’s Twitter account to find the roots of some of these sounds. The fearsomely bearded guitarist’s scholarly interest in left-field music is as evident on Earth Trip as it is on his feed, which is as great a place to find country and folk obscurities as it is to find free jazz and classical music.
Once you’ve heard Jon Hassell, who died at age 84 last Saturday, everything starts to sound like Jon Hassell, from the wind blowing through the trees to the generations of experimental musicians influenced by his global-minded approach to composition. 1977′s Vernal Equinox is the classic, but the trumpeter’s best album is 2009′s Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Her Clothes in the Street, every bit as dusky and seductive as its title suggests.