OPE! Mixtape #6: Splendid Uselessness
Teezo Touchdown, Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guébrou, Metallica (including 'Lulu'), Beatles outtakes, Aphex Twin, The Promise Ring, and more
Well, hello there. What lovely weather these past few days. I hope you could go outside and enjoy the sun if you had the chance.
From my end, I’ve confirmed a trip to LA for most of next month. I’m still working and will have my laptop, so I’ll probably send out newsletters in shorter capacities while traveling. There might be a random week in that time where I just lose track of time and save stuff for the following week. So a head’s up there.
I’ll link this in the reading section below, but this past weekend, Vulture published my breakdown of late-career Metallica and some songs to get you started. The new Metallica record is good and it’s been fun seeing so many of my colleagues come out and declare their open-secret love for a band that’s easy to hate (a hatred I also explore in my piece). Check it out if you can.
I’ve also started a beginner’s guide to ChatGPT, AI, and machine learning. I probably sound a little late to the party, but I’ve been quietly studying ChatGPT’s code for a bit and have come around to its potential usefulness. The guide is for anyone who also feels like AI could do a lot of potential bad if abused but also understand that it’s in our best interest to at least know it. I just started the guide so it’s very messy and barebones right now. You’ll get to watch me flesh out my guide in real time throughout this and next week.
But anyway, let’s get to the music.
LINKS TO READ WHILE YOU LISTEN
My beginner’s guide to ChatGPT. If you wish to pick up any books while I flesh this guide out, one of my favorite books on AI and machine learning is Janelle Shane’s You Look Like a Thing and I Love You. You don’t have to know anything about technology to understand what Shane’s talking about, which is refreshing amongst most tech books, and it’s wicked funny at times.
Mack McCormick’s long, tortured quest to find the real Robert Johnson.
The compelling and forgotten music criticism of Scott Miller. (“If you were a fan of what unfortunately was often called “college rock” in the 1980s and ’90s (Siri: make rock and roll sound like homework).”)
The original recording of the “Wilhelm Scream.” If you’ve watched a film in the last 50 years, you’ve heard the Wilhelm Scream.
Hey now, a deck of cards.
A history of the world according to Getty Images.
An epic and great profile on the man behind Dril. If you know, you know.
The Library of Congress (aka the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for nerds like me) announced its 2023 additions to the National Recording Registry. Cuarteto Coculense! “Ode to Billie Joe”! The “Super Mario” theme! And many recordings I’m not familiar with that I’m excited to explore.
The latest The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer is … one of the best video game trailers I’ve ever seen? That, or we’ve been so starved for details about the new game that we’ve developed Nintendo Stockholm syndrome? If this game ends up being just “Breath of the Wild but with a story” that loses the element of surprise, this will probably only be the 4th or 5th greatest game of all time. That saxophone in the trailer’s music is so weird and glorious.
THIS WEEK’S MIXTAPE
Listen to this week’s mix on Spotify. (NOTE: As always, not every song is available via streaming services.)
Teezo Touchdown - “Familiarity”
“I believe in aliens / I don’t believe in luck”
Fatoumata Diawara - “Nsera (ft. Damon Albarn)”
My favorite part of one of my favorite Gorillaz songs now has Damon playing support on this cool groove. (I’m really late to this song, I know.)
Savannah Conley - “Don’t Make Me Reach”
How many of y’all feel about Lucy Dacus’s “Night Shift” is how I feel about this.
Lucy Dacus - “Night Shift”
But this is still a great song. I think Phoebe Bridgers has more variety but she hasn’t written a song as good as this.
Speedy Ortiz - “Scabs”
William Prince - “When You Miss Someone”
This is my ideal folk country. Unfussy songwriting with a voice that sounds like a train from the older and wiser part of my brain that’s begging me to not be so hard on myself.
Nondi_ - “FCD (Floaty Cloud Dream)”
A new name to me that I found via Jay Papandreas’s Listen Up, Nerds Substack.
Khamari - “Right My Wrongs”
I love these harmonies. Sounds like a long-lost rap sample. Is this song art a Billy Joel tribute?
Party Dozen - “Macca The Mutt (ft. Nick Cave)”
A great find from Abundant Living’s (Zachary Lipez’s) Bandcamp playlist. Maybe I should start making Bandcamp playlists? Their UI looks nicer than most streaming services. Make sure to subscribe to Zach’s newsletter, which is great.
Max Richter - “Vivaldi - The Four Seasons, 1. Spring”
Like, so good, right? I got back into Richter after reading Alex Ross’s profile of whom he describes as the composer of our moment. In my limited knowledge of modern classical, I would agree. Or at least he’s the most approachable of today’s biggest composers.
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guébrou - “Homesickness, Pt. 1”
This piano sounds like a French daydream. Or an expat’s impression of a French dream.
Lou Reed & Metallica - “Junior Dad”
In writing my Metallica feature this past week, I had a blast revisiting Lulu … more specifically, I had a blast revisiting all the initial bad reviews on such a bizarre album. I still stand by “Junior Dad” and do believe people who actually like this album.
Metallica - “Lux Æterna”
Lean and mean Metallica is hard to screw up. I think this song is a little too long but feels like a much-needed kick in the teeth. Lars’s drums finally sound good again.
The Beatles - “And Your Bird Can Sing (First Version / Take 2)”
I was finally able to watch the Disney+ Get Back documentary this past week (s/o to Sam for letting me do so). It’s as lovely as everyone says. My three takeaways:
This is the greatest Paul McCartney propaganda film ever.
Geroge Harrison seemed like an insufferable person to be around.
I now want a Get Back documentary but for a good Beatles album.
I now want long-lost footage of Paul and John arguing over this early version of my favorite song off Revolver, which, thanks to Get Back, is once again my favorite Beatles album. I do appreciate Let It Be more as an album but still find its sequencing much to be desired and most of its songwriting thin. I’m also one of those weirdos who think Abbey Road is overrated with all its schmaltz. Before you throw your computer at me: Yes, the side B medley is nice while I’m listening to it, and I never feel the desire to go out of my way to put it back on. This era of Beatles just isn’t for me, I think.
Aphex Twin - “Avril 14th”
For anyone else who celebrated this past week.
The Promise Ring - “Nothing Feels Good”
“And Indianapolis summers / in park and recreation pools”
The Trash Can Sinatras - “Obscurity Knocks”
One of my good buddies (also named Sam) turned me onto Trash Can Sinatras. He described them as a poppier ‘90s Scottish cousin to Prefab Sprout. He’s absolutely right.
And that’s it! Until next Monday.
With love and all the other good things,
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OPE! logo by Claire Kuang. words and cartoons by yours truly. all typos are intentional.