Essential Saturday night listening: NRBQ, The Hold Steady or Guided by Voices will get the party started, but live albums should be handled with discretion. A crisp three-minute power-pop tune always beats an extended guitar or drum solo.
Essential Sunday morning listening: For a bad hangover, ambient instrumentals from Brian Eno or the ECM jazz label. For contemplative transcendence, bare-bones female vocals and guitar work along the lines of Sharon Van Etten, Xanthe Alexis and Soccer Mommy. For achieving satori, the weirder and more strident works of Torres, St. Vincent, Circuit des Yeux.
First record purchased with my own money: I joined Columbia Record House at age 12 and received the first Johnny Winter, the self-titled Eric Clapton and Traffic’s John Barleycorn Must Die as my freebies. It’s been decades of obsessive over-consumption ever since.
“Wish I’d written that” song: Eric Bachmann, of Archers of Loaf and Crooked Fingers fame, wrote a song called “Man O’ War.” It melded imagery of Spanish anarchists, Islamic invasions of Spain, National Security Agency hydrophones off the coast of Rota, and the fatal sting of blue-bottle jellyfish. How is it even possible to write a song that dense and lovely?
“Wish I could unhear that” songs: I have little patience for overwrought angst. Morrissey and The Smiths took getting used to, Perfume Genius and The 1975 still teeter on the border, but if someone puts on Son Lux, I run in the other direction.
Latest online discovery: My latest heart stop is Haley Heynderickx, but there are so many stunning newcomers out there like Camp Cope, Nap Eyes and Lucy Dacus. I wish I could get more people to listen to them. At a bare minimum, I wish I could stop people from claiming “No good music was written after (1980, 1990, 2005, take your pick).” There are dozens of jaw-dropping new bands; you just need to listen.
Guilty pleasure: I never apologize for liking sparkly pop of the Taylor Swift, Caroline Rose, Halsey or Kacey Musgraves variety. Bubble gum is a good palate freshener after too much hardcore punk.