Best Music of 2018 & Other Interesting Things

Well, 2018 was maybe not the greatest year in human history, broadly speaking, but it sure was musically interesting. In this episode, we discuss a handful of the most thoughtful “best music of 2018” lists, and then listen to a few of the recordings shared by those lists, ones that are particularly outstanding and engaging (and that we haven’t already recently discussed).

We also briefly consider some paradigm-shift-type happenings in creative culture: the potential impact of new works entering the public domain for the first time since 1998, and the first Kennedy Center Honors award to a collaborative work rather than an individual artist.

Use the links below to follow your musical curiosity!  

Playlist for this episode:

  1. Robyn - Missing U from Honey
  2. Kasey Musgraves - Butterflies, Space Cowboy, and High Horse from Golden Hour
  3. Rosalía - MALAMENTE (Cap.1: Augurio) and DI MI NOMBRE (Cap.8: Éxtasis) from EL MAL QUERER
  4. Tierra Whack - Hookers and Hungry Hippo from Whack World
  5. Pusha T - The Games We Play from Daytona
  6. Royal Liverpool National Orchestra - On the Waterfront Suite, II. Adagio from Bernstein: On the Waterfront
  7. Yo Yo Ma - Unaccompanied Cello Suite #1, BWV 1007 - I. Prélude and Unaccompanied Cello Suite #6, BWV 1012 - III. Courante from Six Evolutions - Bach: Cello Suites
  8. Wet Ink - Auditory Scene Analysis, Pt. 1 from Wet Ink:20
  9. Janelle Monáe - Make Me Feel from Dirty Computer

Original Versions of Famous Tracks

A funny thing happens sometimes in music, where the original version of a song as recorded by the artist(s) who wrote it, is not the most popular or well-known version. In fact, if a cover or remake of a song is successful enough, the original version is supplanted in popular imagination.

In this episode, we give a listen to eight terrific songs, each in two versions: the famous one and the original one, and the contrasts within each pair are sometimes striking. We also discuss some recent musical finds you’ll enjoy, from all over the world.

Playlist for this episode:

  1. LP - Lost On You [Live Session] 
  2. Rei - Cocoa
  3. Jeanine De Bique - “Rejoice Greatly” from Messiah
  4. Toni Basil - Hey Mickey
  5. Racey - Kitty
  6. Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
  7. Robert Hazard - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
  8. Soft Cell - Tainted Love
  9. Gloria Jones - Tainted Love
  10. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - I Love Rock ’n’ Roll
  11. The Arrows - I Love Rock ’n’ Roll
  12. Bananarama - Venus
  13. Shocking Blue - Venus
  14. Quiet Riot - Cum on Feel the Noize
  15. Slade - Cum on Feel the Noize
  16. Beyonce - If I Were A Boy
  17. BC Jean - If I Were A Boy
  18. Santana - Black Magic Woman
  19. Fleetwood Mac - Black Magic Woman

Does awareness of musical structure change a listener’s experience?

In this episode, we explore an interesting question: does awareness of structure and process in music have any impact on the experience of listening to that music?

Given that music occurs in time, the ways that we choose to organize and develop musical ideas are critically important for musicians, but may not be apparent to a listener. Here we take several examples from widely different kinds of music with some before-and-after listening, so that you may explore the answer to our title’s question.

Playlist for this episode:

  1. "Dear Theodosia," from Hamilton - Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom, Jr.
  2. I Believe I'll Dust My Broom - Robert Johnson
  3. Hound Dog - Big Mama Thornton
  4. Mercy - Duffy
  5. Cherokee - Clifford Brown and the Max Roach Quartet
  6. Fugue in G Minor, BWV 578 ("Little") - J.S. Bach
  7. It's Gonna Rain, Pt. 1 - Steve Reich
  8. Piano Phase - Steve Reich
  9. Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 (IV) - Ludwig van Beethoven
  10. Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection Symphony" (III. In ruhig fliessender Bewegung) - Gustav Mahler
  11. Sinfonia (III. In ruhig fliessender Bewegung) - Luciano Berio

The Glory of Outsider Music

On this episode of the podcast, we take a look at Outsider Music, recordings by iconoclastic and unique creative voices whose naive craft channels passionate music-making. Using Songs in the Key of Z: the Curious Universe of Outsider Music by Irwin Chusid as starting point, this episode features some of the most unexpected and distinct music you'll ever hear. 

Playlist for this episode:

  1. Florence Foster Jenkins - Aria, ‘Queen of the Night’ (1944)
  2. Conlon Nancarrow - Study for Player Piano No. 21 (1961)
  3. Elva (Mrs.) Miller - A Hard Day’s Night (1966)
  4. Wild Man Fischer - Merry Go Round (1968)
  5. Legendary Stardust Cowboy - Paralyzed (1968) & Standing in a Trash Can (Thinking About You) (1989)
  6. The Shaggs - Philosophy of the World & My Pal Foot Foot (1969)
  7. Shooby Taylor - Stout Hearted Men (1972)
  8. Luie Luie - El Touchy (1974)
  9. Gary Wilson - 6.4 = Make Out & Loneliness (1977)
  10. Jandek - They Told Me I Was a Fool (1978)
  11. Daniel Johnston - Walking the Cow (1983)
  12. The Frogs - I Don’t Care If U Disrespect Me (Just So You Love Me) (1988)
  13. Wesley Willis - Rock n Roll McDonald’s (1995)
  14. Bingo Gazingo - Up Your Jurassic Park (1997)
  15. Eilert Pilarm - Jailhouse Rock (1998)

The History of Punk, Pt. 3: Rise of the Indie Label

FINALLY, the next (final?) installment of our deep dive into the history of Punk music, its main artists and cultural influence. Part 3 covers the 1980s underground scene, knitting together far-flung regional efforts where bands pioneered a DIY approach that laid the foundation for huge independent rock bands in the 1990s.

"The History of Punk, Part 1: The Velvet Underground & Nico" is available here or here

"The History of Punk, Part 2: The Stooges to the Clash" is available here or here.

Playlist for this episode:

  1. Rise Above - Black Flag
  2. Filler - Minor Threat
  3. Waiting Room - Fugazi
  4. Unsatisfied - Replacements
  5. D’s Car Jam - Minutemen
  6. Something I Learned Today - Hüsker Dü
  7. I Against I - Bad Brains
  8. Schizophrenia - Sonic Youth
  9. Sludgefeast - Dinosaur Jr.
  10. Sweat Loaf - Butthole Surfers
  11. California Über Alles - Dead Kennedys
  12. Touch Me I’m Sick - Mudhoney
  13. Bewitched - Beat Happening
  14. Jaded - Operation Ivy
  15. No Control - Bad Religion
  16. Double Dare Ya - Bikini Kill
  17. Summer Babe - Pavement
  18. New Slang - The Shins
  19. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) - Arcade Fire

More Music We Like

This episode does what it says in the title, it’s another hang out where we listen to and talk about music that we really like! Featuring music by Janelle Monaé, The Internet, Michael Jackson, Anderson .Paak, Punch Brothers, and Kamasi Washington.

We hope you discover something that you like!

Playlist for this episode:

  1. Janelle Monaé
  2. The Internet - Come Over
  3. Michael Jackson
  4. Anderson .Paak - 'Til It's Over
  5. Punch Brothers
  6. Kamasi Washington

Music We Like & Happenings in Musical Culture

The Loose Filter Podcast is back, with WEEKLY episodes! This episode is just a fireside chat with Anthony and Stuart, musing about recent happenings in musical culture, like Kendrick Lamar winning the Pulitzer Prize in Music, and the Music Modernization Act. Plus, as always, a few fun digressions. Join us every Wednesday for new episodes!

Playlist for this episode:

  1. Mason Bates - Terrycloth Troposphere
  2. Kendrick Lamar - DNA., HUMBLE., and LOVE.
  3. Galactic - Percussion Interlude

From Musique Concrète to Plunderphonics: Recorded Sound as Source Material

 This episode of the podcast highlights our ongoing creative fascination with the ability to capture and manipulate sound. As always with human creative work, curiosity and experimentation started as soon as the tools became available: in April 1948, the first commercially available audio tape recorder, the Ampex Model 200, hit the market. Before the end of that year, composers were using it to create recordings that they would cut, splice and edit together in all sorts of interesting and weird ways, to create new pieces of 'sculpted music,' recordings called musique concrète.

As the available tools grew in number and sophistication, this general practice--of altering, editing, adding to music after it has been recorded--grew and multiplied, too. In our journey here, we quickly move from the conceptual to the popular, so you'll listen to the practice jump from experimental composition to the recording studio and audio production, its evolution into remixing and the internet, and arrive at a still-evolving practice aptly described as plunderphonics.  

The playlist is really pretty wild for this one (even for us), so to really expand your musical frames-of-reference, be sure to follow up through the links below (or wherever you get your music that you listen to) and explore this peculiar and extraordinary soundscape further. 

Playlist for this episode:

  1. Pierre Schaeffer - Étude aux chemins de fer (1948)
  2. Pierre Schaeffer & Pierre Henry - Symphonie Pour un Homme Seul (1949-50)
  3. György Ligeti - Artikulation (1958)
  4. The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows (1966)
  5. The Beach Boys - Good Vibrations (Stereo Backing Track, 1966)
  6. Pink Floyd - Money (1973)
  7. Björk - Cvalda (2000)
  8. Brian Eno & David Byrne - Mea Culpa (1981)
  9. The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (The JAMS) - Whitney Joins the JAMs (1987)
  10. John Oswald - Dab (1989)
  11. The Evolution Control Committee - Whipped Cream Mixes: Rebel Without A Pause (1994)
  12. Danger Mouse - 99 Problems (2004)
  13. Girl Talk - Triple Double (2010)
  14.  Neil Cicierega - Bustin (2015)
  15. YITT - I Really Like A Hole (2015)
  16. DJ Earworm - United States of Pop 2015 (50 Shades of Pop) (2015)
  17. SirFluffy Productions - JayZ vs. The Verve: Brush Your Bittersweet Shoulders Off (2016)

Hyperreality has been weaponized (and we better pay attention)

The topic of this podcast episode really stretches the "loose" part of our 'loose filter' concept, since we don't talk much about music. We do talk about something really important, though, something that is unprecedented in human history, involves a fascinating and frightening confluence of cultural behavior and technology, and is happening all around us--and to each one of us!--but that very few people have noticed and discussed: the weaponization of hyperreality.

To help us understand and explore this topic smartly, most of the episode features a conversation with Keith Nainby, whose academic specialty is human communication, and who is a terrifically lively guest whose insights still have our heads spinning.  Since this topic can seem pretty esoteric at first, I wrote a post that serves as introduction to this topic, but it's not necessary to enjoy our conversation about this timely and important topic.

Playlist for the interstitial music and clips in this episode:

Continue reading "Hyperreality has been weaponized (and we better pay attention)" »

Understanding Donald Trump: how technological mediation leads to actual surreality


Neil Postman is, in my estimation, one of the most important writers whose work needs to be more actively read, studied, and taught than it is currently. While his work is not obscure, and has had some influence, I open this short essay by asserting its significance because Postman has articulated and explained the fundamental necessity of deconstructing, understanding, and moderating the influence and effects of our media on ourselves (and by extension our culture, our collective behavior and decisions) better and more accessibly than any other writer I've found.

Also, for me, through much of his work as a whole Postman implicitly draws out the evolution of a primary thesis of communication studies--the medium is the message--into our growth and experience of hyperreality (which is vastly accelerated by the internet). I think that this process has continued, and that--because our experience of hyperreality is so pervasive and so convincing--we are now actively trying to make reality match our own subjective notions of what it should be, and the phenomenon of Donald Trump as PEOTUS is as clear an example of this large-scale reification of hyperreality as I've seen.

Look: I know that those previous two sentences are maybe not the clearest I've ever written, and that this can seem dense and obscure and not really worth thinking about too much. But, and I urge you to find me persuasive on this, it really is important and actually not too complicated, if you can stay in a conceptual space for a bit. I think it's urgent that we see and understand this set of phenomena we're currently experiencing, to help explain a world where "President Trump" is not a joke in a Simpsons episode from 2000, and to inform how we react and act going forward.

Continue reading "Understanding Donald Trump: how technological mediation leads to actual surreality" »