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We’ve Got Some Terrible News for People Who Don’t Want to Listen to Great New Music

That's right—it's time for our weekly playlists again, featuring 5 great new local songs and 5 great new songs from everywhere else.

1:13 PM CST on January 29, 2024

YouTube; Harry Wohl|

Tierra Whack; Uranium Club

Is it Live Track Week here or something? Nope, two of my local picks just happen to be live recordings. And yes, I am still dipping back a little into 2023 to highlight some December releases.

Local Picks

Zaq Baker, “Spearmint”

Baker has built up a nice little songbook over the past few years, and his December live album, If It’s Not Zaq Baker Live at the Green Room, I’m Not Going, doubles as a greatest hits. This song, which ends his set for a reason, is old enough to mention SuperAmerica, features a great little Latin breakdown, and includes the hopeful declaration “I got a feeling that my 30s will be fun.”

Terry Eason, “Defibrillator” 

The deadpan voice of longtime noise-pop melody maker and all-purpose guitar whiz Eason voice emerges from below a thick distorted rhythm and a prickly, trebly lead. And at nearly a minute and a half, it’s the second longest track on his new album, Asteroid Collapse Butterflies One

Modern Wildlife, “Mergers and Acquisitions”

A simple but memorable guitar figure curls over a terrifically spare postpunky groove, then the lyrics begin with the very postpunky sentiment “The truth is elusive.” An album, Cost of Living, is due in March. 

10 Items or Fewer, “Is That Star Wars?”

On The Fossil Record, singer-songwriter Mike Hallenbeck flaunts his usual smarts, humor, and pathos—opener “2B Young in the 21st Century” slightly recalls vintage Grandaddy. This simple absurdist gem is my fave of them all, and though I’d prefer a studio maybe, it is fun to hear the crowd slowly catch on to the joke.

Uranium Club, “Small Grey Men”

“Weird,” “eccentric,” “bizarro”—the press loves playing up this band’s oddball side almost as much as the band itself does. The first single from their upcoming album, Infants Under the Bulb, is an array of guitar slashes peppered with desperate exclamations like “I wanna trade sex for information!” and “7 and 7 please—hold the 7!” 

Non-Local Picks

Heems feat. Saul Williams, “Accent”

Lafandar, a collab with an Indian-American producer from Chicago named Lapgan, will be the former Das Racist MC’s first solo joint since 2015 (though he did give us a couple of Swet Shop Boys albums with the now otherwise-preoccupied Riz Ahmed in the years following). Our first taste of it is a lush production, with Himanshu wondering “How many likes will my hate crime receive?” 

The Messthetics & James Brandon Lewis, “Emergence”

If you’re a rocker at heart but you dig big ol’ saxophones like I do, I hope you’re not still sleeping on Lewis. The jazz polymath dropped two great albums last year, and here he teams up with Fugazi’s rhythm section and guitarist Anthony Pirog, whom he out-skronks. And they’re doing a full album together.  

James Talley, “Jesus Wasn’t a Capitalist”

Yeah, I know it sounds like something your aunt would post on Facebook, but this 80-year-folkie has been the real deal since he emerged in 1974 with the classic Got No Bread, No Milk, No Money, But We Sure Got a Lot of Love. With fiddle and horns unfussily adorning guitar and piano, Talley never comes off as preachy—just relaxed, like you are when you know you’re telling the plain truth.

Rosie Tucker, "All My Exes Live In Vortexes"

If the rest of the song doesn’t live up to its opening line “I hope no one had to piss in a bottle at work to get me the thing I ordered on the internet,” well that’s a high bar, and the way Tucker’s flails about in a whirl of tunefulness too chaotic to be called a melody is its own reward. As for the piss bottles, well you know what they say: There is no ethical indie-rock under capitalism 

Tierra Whack, “Shower Song”

Sorry but I just adore her. “I sound great/When I’m singing in the shower,” the Philly rapper announces over an elastic synth bass, eminently pleased to just be herself in a way we should all emulate. The chorus sounds like something a little kid would come up with, and I mean that as the highest possible compliment.

Wanna get a local song considered for the playlist? To make things easy on both of us, email keith@racketmn.com with MONDAY PLAYLIST in the subject header. (Don’t, as in do NOT, DM or text: If I’m in a good mood, I’ll just ask you to send an email; if I’m in a bad mood I’ll just ignore it.)

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