1. July was the 20th anniversary of The White Stripes’ White Blood Cells. Listening to the album brought back memories of seeing Jack White in Montreal and the crowd going crazy over ‘Seven Nation Army,’ the song whose riff gets sung out in unison for no reason during hockey games. It also brought back memories of meeting someone who claimed produced their earlier albums. It was at a house party and he was drunk. I half-believed him. It must’ve been the way he said ‘Meg’ casually. I used ‘We’re Going To Be Friends’ as a listening activity for a lot of my beginner ESL students in their first week of class. Whenever I told them this was the same band that does the ‘Naaa-na-na-na-na-naaa-naaah’ song, I was met with disbelief.
  2. Nathaniel Rateliff put out a Live at Red Rocks album. It’s stripped down from his Night Sweats days and the pared back acoustic songs were how I first discovered him anyway. I’m not sure if it’s a move that’s permanent but it’s rare that an artist returns to their starting point. I appreciated it a lot, especially Kevin Morby’s guest feature.
  3. I’m not sure what led me to jam some The Smith Street Band, but on more than a couple of occasions I found myself listening to them while my surroundings were quiet (i.e. at work). The energy was kinetic. I thought of the chain of events, from vocal cords to mic to some digital conversion process, the 1s and 0s being read somewhere on my phone and a tiny audio card pushing it back out through the opaque processes of Bluetooth transmission. My earbuds are always on bass boost. Away I went, typing as fast as the riffs.
  4. I found a public playlist of artists covering Wilco songs. Every Wilco fan would be familiar with Bill Fay’s ‘Jesus, Etc.’ Along with Fay, there’s Lambchop glitching out ‘Reservations’, Wanda Jackson sliding a guitar on ‘California Stars’ and Mountain Man making ‘You and I’ a lot brighter. I’ve yet to fall out of love with Wilco, but the playlist was like a joined celebration of my favourite band’s works and with it comes the same fuzzy feeling that I still get to this day when someone says they like a band that you do.
  5. Gillian Welch’s Time (The Revelator) also turned 20. I was introduced to ‘Everything Is Free’ when it played in the background to one of the saddest films I have ever watched, Tout est parfait. It speaks to the director’s and sound supervisor’s selection ability that I, to this day, cannot separate the two. Good film, good song.
  6. If I have a personal definition of pop it is music which has a substantial artistic meta-narrative hovering over the musical itself. And if I follow this definition, Billie Eilish is probably one of the few pop artists I listen to. Of course, the compelling thing about the meta-narrative is that it invites efforts to label Billie Eilish (i.e. she is an X in a Y world doing Z things and is right/wrong about it) and those efforts are themselves magnets for discussion. I have my own opinions, as does everyone in the know, and it fascinates me that it’s hard to digress when talking about Billie Eilish. All I will say is that it is comforting to me that the title track is my favourite cut and that I can tell myself that I am still the type of person who loves bombastic explosions of guitars. And of all people, Billie Eilish, a champion of like-what-you-like ethos, would be happy with that kind of statement.

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