“One Day We’ll All Be Ghosts”
1. The Head and the Heart – “Ghosts” (4:19)
2. Don Ryan – “This Town” (3:38)
3. The Cat Empire – “The Heart is a Cannibal” (4:06)
4. Oceanship – “Hotblack” (3:39)
5. Sounds Under Radio – “The Arsonist” (3:52)
6. Mikky Ekko – “Pull Me Down” (3:29)
7. Imagine Dragons – “Radioactive” (3:08)
8. Matt Hires – “Forever” (3:28)
9. Tim Noyes – “Blue Buildings” (3:16)
10. Alesso (ft. Matthew Koma) – “Years (Radio Edit)” (3:16)
11. James Blake – “Retrograde” (3:44)
12. alt-J – “Interlude 2″ (1:18)
13. Among Savages – “Raging Sun” (4:14)
14. The Kicks – “Live Fast, Die Young” (4:48)
15. Joe Pug – “The Great Despiser” (4:06)
16. Josh Ritter – “Can’t Go To Sleep (Without You)” (3:17)
Welcome to the first of what I hope will be many NOW “HEAR! HEAR!” THIS playlists using Spotify, which I hope will help put the spotlight on emerging artists worthy of mainstream appeal. I’ll start each list with a current song or artist and use their music to branch out, creating playlists which work as a whole. There won’t always be a literal theme to the list — in this case, ghosts don’t play a role specifically in every song — but sonically the lists will showcase how little difference there is today between many pop-centric hitmakers and their indie kin.
This week I jumpstarted this list off The Head and the Heart’s exquisite pop hook known as “Ghosts,” from which the title line is drawn. From there it was only a short hop between my favorite Don Ryan track (which also hearkens back to experimental indie-folk in the veins of Vandaveer) and then Oceanship’s “Hotblack.” Elsewhere on the journey you’ll find Australia’s most astonishing export (The Cat Empire), England’s ultimate art-rock savants (alt-J), and several hits which currently push the pop envelope into EDM inspired territory (Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” and Alesso’s club-worthy “Years” in particular).
There’s even a song from the Grammys’ ultimate mystery man Mikky Ekko, who stole tons of Twitter time when he sat on a stool and sang with Rihanna while inspiring many online to wonder who the hell he was in the first place. “Pull Me Down” definitely isn’t afraid to make its presence heard. This could easily be the “Somebody I Used To Know” of 2013. It’s a song I fully expect will stick in your heads. Just make sure you’ve played the list all the way through before you go back and hit repeat a few dozen times.
In the end, I hope you’ll be inspired to create playlists of your own, building off your own favorite songs to give us a picture of where you see pop music heading in the new year. Feel free to comment on this list below and then post your own. Let’s really make “Hear! Hear!” a place to explore musical threads and get a conversation started! And if you hear a band you like, click the links above to check them out further on Facebook.
As though there weren’t already about ten thousand reasons to love the hell out of Don Ryan’s flamethrower-punk version of alternative country, “Vultures” will prove he remains at the top of his game. This three-minute barrage of fast-strummed acoustic guitar and a full-on bullet-train of percussion and frantic vocals, the song features Ryan’s signature sound laid bare in all its glory. If the country establishment hadn’t ruined Hank Williams III forever by forcing his Grandaddy’s sound on him in the 90s, he might naturally have come along with something akin to this firecracker when Curb had their shot at him. Instead, Don Ryan’s fighting the good fight in relative obscurity. Shine a light, musical brothers! Music this good deserves a wider audience. Play it for Grandma at Thanksgiving dinner and see if she doesn’t agree!
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Check out footage from the filming of this video (available on Thanksgiving), plus get a copy of the new song via the band’s Bandcamp page. The single will be on Ryan’s forthcoming, as yet untitled, EP. For more information about Don Ryan, check out these older posts on “Hear! Hear!”
– UNDER COVER: Don Ryan – “This Lullabye” (April 8, 2012)
– ARTIST TO WATCH: Don Ryan (October 25, 2011)
I’ve written before on this blog about how awesome Don Ryan is. But this cover of Queens of the Stone Age’s “This Lullaby” is definitely worth a listen. Then, once you’ve basked in the melodic glory that is Don Ryan meets QOTSA, you can go re-read my feature on his magnificent “This Town,” and run out to buy a copy of Tangle Town, the best album of 2011 that no one’s gotten to hear:
Don Ryan knows he has to win listeners from the very first moments … which makes “This Town” even more impressive, since the smothering sense of doom is present instantly, yet manages to build as the song progresses. “This town is burning down,” he sings, his vocals providing hits of desperate hope even as all the music around him floats like flotsam upon the oily black bilge water below.
Don Ryan brings a dark sinister touch to his cabaret folk-pop
From the opening moments of “This Town” I was convinced that I’ve stumbled upon the next artist ready to carry the torch of Tom Waits to a new generation of music listeners not yet too jaded to appreciate the touch of sinister imagery he brings to bear. With an eye for pop hooks to match someone like Duke Special, who has made his name with similar cabaret-pop experimentation in Belfast, Don Ryan knows he has to win listeners from the very first moments … which makes “This Town” even more impressive, since the smothering sense of doom is present instantly, yet manages to build as the song progresses. “This town is burning down,” he sings, his vocals providing hits of desperate hope even as all the music around him floats like flotsam upon the oily black bilge water below.
In other words, this is music for those of us who like our pop music with enough edge to make it worthwhile. And you can trust me on this or rely on the video below, but what Don Ryan brings to the table here is nothing short of deliciously twisted.
Ryan’s album Tangle Town comes out officially next week. Queue up!