The Best Music Howie Heard In 2020

Albums of the year, in random order

More outstanding music, roughly power-ranked

Honorable mention, alphabetical

Battalion of Cloudships, “Especially The Lies”
Big|Brave, “A Gaze Among Them” (2019)
Cosmic Ground, “0110” / “Apocalypse 2020 (Soil 2)”
Crimson, “Raid” and Origin Text, “Self Entitled”
Criteria, “Years”
False Brother, “Uncanny Valley”
Greg Dulli, “Random Desire”
The Interrupters, “Say It Out Loud” (2016) / “Fight The Good Fight” (2018)
L.U.V. C.R.A.F., “Friendship Acid” / “Hauntological Phalluses: 1984”
Skeleton, “Skeleton”

Music I need to check out in 2021, alphabetical

Bully, “Sugaregg”
Fleet Foxes, “Shore”
Fuzz, “III”
Kid Dakota, “Age of Roaches”
Moses Sumney, “Græ”
My Morning Jacket, “The Waterfall II”
Phantom Planet, “Devastator”

The Best Music Cory Heard In 2020

Honorable mention:

Brock Berrigan, “Utah” – Music to drive through the desert too (while wearing a chicken mask)

Fatlip, “The Loneliest Punk” (2005) – Didn’t put this in the “Best” list because I’ve already heard it plenty before, but I rediscovered it at the perfect time. I hope Fatlip is doing well

Fleet Foxes, “Shore” – Same deal as “Crack-Up”; I don’t get it yet, but I listen and hear a lot of promising moments, and I am sure it’ll click one day

Megan Thee Stallion, “Good News” – I don’t know if I am cool enough to love this record as much as I do. It’s absolutely ridiculous and obscene and I can’t get enough

“Moana” OST, “Frozen” OST – Being a dad hath forced me to know and love these movies and soundtracks. I’m not crying, my eyes are bleeding clear blood!

Tame Impala, “The Slow Rush” – Didn’t hit me in the jornk immediately, but bloomed like a flower growing from soil of powdered Vitamin C, LSD, and CRISPY FUNK BITS

“A Life Without Fireflies” on Bandcamp, Streaming, and The Long Play Listening Party

Happy holidays, all! We’ve brought Arturo Got The Shaft’s “A Life Without Fireflies” into modernity on Bandcamp and your favorite streaming platforms. To celebrate Rob, Royce, and I recorded a very special throwback episode of The Long Play Listening Party.

Have a safe week, everyone. -Howie & Rob

“A Life Without Fireflies” on Spotify | Deezer | Amazon | YouTube Music | Tidal | Apple Music

New LPLP – “Small Guarantees” by Selvedge and Til Willis

A new episode of The Long Play Listening Party is out, featuring Til Willis and Selvedge’s album “Small Guarantees.” Get the episode on YouTube, Instagram, or your favorite podcast platform (now including Google Podcasts!) here: https://li.sten.to/8dsYe02

Here’s the record –

And here’s the show on YouTube –

Ebony Tusks on The Long Play Listening Party

New episode, new feeds! Marty opens up about “Heal_Thyself,” Ebony Tusks’ incredible new LP. This was a really special conversation and I hope you’ll check it out, whatever kind of music you’re into.

Subscribe to The Long Play Listening Party on YouTube, Instagram TV, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and more here: https://li.sten.to/8dsYe02

Here’s just the music –

New Instrument Day

I got a new instrument to learn this winter, as we keep staying home to avoid and prevent the spread of COVID-19; a Roland SP-404SX sampler, the defining box of lo-fi hip-hop.

To start learning I recorded some terrible beatboxing on my part, and CA singing the chorus of Dessa’s “5 Out Of 6” and an improvised accompaniment part.

Here’s that material chopped up, with effects applied, and arranged into something like a song.

Next up is working through the manual in detail (yeah, I RTFM) and pulling some samples from Night Mode and Dark Satellites.

Bear & Joe

My sister’s co-worker and friend Allison has a brother, Scott, and Scott’s friend Jon was a staff member of Joe Biden’s in the Senate. (That’s four degrees of separation, if you’re counting.) (Thanks to Allison for telling this story on FB a couple weeks ago and reminding us of some of the details. I also think Lisa Silberstein was involved from Bear’s posts on the 6th, but I’m not sure how.)

As Bear’s cancer was progressing in 2014, Allison and Scott asked Jon if he could get Joe to send a selfie or something to give her a little boost. It doesn’t sound like Jon was optimistic, but said he’d try.

On March 6, Joe actually called and left a voicemail:

Mary, Mary, Mary, this is Joe Biden, Vice-President Biden. I just called to say hello to you and tell you I’ve kind of been where you are, and you’re an incredible young woman. And also to wish you happy birthday, and I hope if I’m around Chicago on March the 20th I’d come to your birthday, I don’t know whether they’re going to have me…

I’ll try you again but I just wanted to, I hear nothing but wonderful things about you, and you know, you’re going through hell now, and that’s happened to my family too, but guess what; don’t give up hope, don’t give up hope…

I’m going to try you again if that’s OK, and I hope I’m not being presumptuous calling you, but I’m going to try again later. Love you, kid. Keep it up.

Joe Biden to Mary Howard, 2014 March 6

Remember that Joe’s son Beau was also in treatment for brain cancer at this time, having been diagnosed in 2013.

True to his word, he called back on the 20th and left another message, only hours after returning from Poland following Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. Bear was unconscious by then but we’re told she could hear, and Joe’s message was played for her:

Mary, happy birthday, this is Vice-President Joe Biden. I told you I’d call you on your birthday kiddo, and I’m thinking a lot about you. I’ll try you again but I just want you to know I’m thinking about you, you’re a wonderful woman. Anyway, happy 30th birthday, child.

Joe Biden to Mary Howard, 2014 March 20

Fight Songs

I’ve mentioned it in passing before, but here it is officially; recording for “Fight Songs,” my seventh solo record as Sally Ride and first since 2015, is well underway.

“Fight Songs” is the punk-, Motown-, and Elvis Costello-influenced follow-up to “Ventura” (“Valiance” being a kind of one-off).

The view for the next few weeks

My aim on “Fight Songs” is to absolutely nail the rhythmic feel of those influences, and the key to that is the bass. I’m using a James Jamerson-style rig, with the foam-deadened strings you can see above and a fully DI sound.

Customizations to the bass sound include:

  • Running the pickups in series for a bigger timbre
  • Using my Falcon Heavy prototype pedal for some clipping and saturation
  • Using my Wheeler Leveling Amplifier pedal
  • Using a transformer-based DI box with a wider pass band than Jamerson had available (I may end up high- and low-passing the signal a bit more in the mix)

I’m really happy with the timbre, have four songs down (out of 14, one of which will be a Cool Drugs song), and am working at a pace of a couple songs per week.

Writing bass parts has become one of my favorite things to do, musically. It utilizes all of my rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic sensibilities while not requiring me to step into the spotlight like a vocal or solo would. Mid-major solo artists and bands seeking ringer bassists, get at me! Cory and Drew can provide unbiased references!!