The 35 Year Olds Afraid of Island Boy
Deerhoof! Grouper! Ross Simonini! Spoon!
Hello, welcome to the Unskippables, where we’re all in the Tron sequel starring ABBA.
It’s Halloween week, meaning it’s “Christmas music eve” for us Americans. Cherish your time with the Monster Mash, my friends. Or - if you dare - this spooky Halloween disco and soul mix from friend-of-the-newsletter Joe Tirabassi.
Before the music, here are fun reads from this week:
A sprawling piece on how ABBA made its first album since 1982 in total secrecy
Though non-music related, this piece on how a man ate at Six Flags every day for years for a total of $150 is excellent
Proof that if you get asked to be in a street style piece, don’t
THE UNSKIPPABLES #13
Grouper - Disordered Minds
A haunting song shrouded in distant reverb that still feels pulsing and warm, like the music is coming from under your skin.
Chris Richards’ review of the record in the Washington Post put it nicely:
Certain Grouper songs can sound like they’re coming from down the block, or through the wall, or both — sometimes in a way that invites you to think about where you are and what you’re doing there. When I tried to get a better handle on all of that by putting my head down on the floor next to the stereo speaker, it only made Harris’s voice sound farther away.
Deerhoof - Ancient Mysteries, Described
Deerhoof have long made technicolor apocalypse music, and I think their four-album run from 2004’s Milk Man to 2008’s Offend Maggie is a deeply underrated streak of art pop perfection. Actually, You Can taps into a groovy paranoia that simmers instead of exploding, letting Greg Saunier’s mighty shuffle sit underneath the song’s double guitar-driven rhythm and Satomi Matsuzaki’s vocal refrain — “crime is a slow motion love song.”
Ross Simonini feat. Kelli Scarr, Daniel Aged, Eliza Callahan - Say No
This song, from LA-based songwriter Ross Simonini, feels like a Pure Moods posse cut, with everyone’s verses taking slight detours from the song’s spacious melody, perfectly framing a Donna Lewis-sized piano drop at 1:20 to kick off a giant, exhaling chorus.
Spoon - The Hardest Cut
“Liking Spoon” has gone from being my indie bona fides to a sign I am one of those 30 somethings afraid of their Gen Z coworkers, but I will never turn down a chance to spend time with their spacious, deconstructed pop. This track, from their upcoming 10th album Lucifer on the Sofa, feels like a swinging rock anthem slightly pulled apart at the seams, with needling guitars fuzzing out in the red, each section missing the part that would push it into Black Keys bluze rawk territory. No one writes big rock this smart, or smart rock this big. I’ll love them forever, no matter how washed it makes me.
Flyysoulja ft. Kodiyakredd - I’m An Island Boy
To be clear: I do not think this is a good song. In fact, it’s barely a song. However, watching these heavily tattooed (issa bird?) young men fake-patois their way through a deeply dumb, deeply catchy freestyle affected me more than any pop music I’ve heard all week. Is this what music is now? How much money will they get from a major label for a terrible followup single? Why is this hook stuck in my brain? There is no justice in viral fame, and there’s no shot I can take on here that would hit these two island boys, putting their vests on yeah, pissing in their day pool.
Elliott Smith - Christian Brothers
Last Friday was the 20th anniversary of Elliott Smith’s death, and it threw me back into his catalog - including Roman Candle, which I had never really spent time with. My favorite track of his is still probably this one, which showcases the way his writing could still be menacing and sharp, even with just sparse guitars and whispers. The song’s looped riff over brushed snare still feels seasick and mean while keeping a hushed, intimate intensity. It’s impossible to imagine this music coming out now, both in how it was made and the quiet hand-to-hand way his songs found people. RIP.
That’s all for this week - thanks for reading and see you next Friday!