DJ Jim Q's Playlist: Curiosity
Curiosity may have killed the cat but the real question is was it worth it? The world around us is endlessly fascinating. Even in an era of complete information overload and saturation, there is still so much to understand and experience. I’m suspect of people who lack curiosity and I certainly can’t relate. What the hell? How can you not be in awe of the world around you and not want to know more? Curiosity is the foundation of creativity and discovery. Those driven to see what happens, what’s next, and what’s possible are the ones who invent new things. Artists and musicians have an inherent curiosity baked into their DNA, it’s what drives them to create and experiment.
This month’s playlist is all about intrigue, the need to know, the drive to discover. Curiosity is the theme and these artists are looking for answers, from Kilo Kish to Whitney Houston. Listen and get curious. Jimi asks “Are You Experienced?”, Cakes da Killa wants to know who’s calling with “New Phone Who Dis?”, Sufjan Stevens explores the curious story of “Tonya Harding” and Barbarian wants to know “Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl?”.
Below are a few highlights from the playlist.
Very few records revolutionized music the way Jimi Hendrix’s debut “Are you Experienced?” did. The highly anticipated record sounded like nothing before it. The guitar work was strange, wild and experimental. Guitarists around the world were in awe of the virtuosos’s creativity and innovative playing, despite the lack of critical acclaim. The title track “Are You Experienced?”, has the always cool Jimi, curious about another’s experience, but more accurately he is questioning the curiosity about what’s beyond this “measly little world”.
In the early 2000’s, The Libertines were one of the most promising rock revival bands of the era. The band put out two fantastic records before imploding as a result of co-front man and songwriter Pete Doherty’s notorious addiction problems. He and Carl Barâthad had a public falling out when Doherty robbed Barâthad’s home. He spent 2 months in jail for the offense. Although he quickly rejoined the band after his release, his continued drug addiction and related problems led to his expulsion from the band. “What Became of the Likely Lads” is a ponderous tale, wondering what would have happened had the two successfully stuck together. Fortunatly, the band seems to have worked out their problems. They reformed in 2104 releasing their third studio record, “Anthems for Doomed Youth”.
Midnight Star’s “Curious” is a clear descendant of Marvin Gaye’s sultry 80’s hit “Sexual Healing”, both relying heavily on the classic TR 808 drum machine for a syncopated rhythmic foundation and the chord progressions are curiously similar, which was likely no accident, but it’s still a great song in its own right.
I can’t help it, I love the cheesy falsetto stylings of the Bee Gees, it’s just so damn smooth. While “Night Fever” might be my favorite track from the Brothers Gibb, “How Deep is Your Love” is a great track as well. This one is a real charmer, Andy Gibb, asking his lover “In a world of fools” how real is your love for me? Oh Andrew.
Big Sean asks curiously “Who’s Stopping Me?” in the Metro Boomin collaboration. The track is a significant stylistic departure for the prolific producer. Metro Boomin is an institution, he has helped define the sound of modern hip-hop/trap with his ultra-slow bouncy rhythms, staccato high-hat patterns and machine-gun snare rolls. However, this track is different, using samples from Brazilian singer Nazaré Pereira, it has a soothing Latin-sound with bossa rhythms and intricate guitar picking. The sound is unique for the producer and works really well with Big Sean’s laid-back rhyming and conversational phrasing, every word just seems to roll off his tongue with ease.
The theme this month was selected by the Malmö chapter. I included a number of curiosity themed songs from the southern Swedish city. The duo Wy asks “What Would I Ever Do?” in a slow burn dreamy tune reminiscent of XX’s early work. Great song. Critical darling Alice Boman wonders “What Are You Searching For?” in a hauntingly beautiful composition full of empathy, hope and melancholic wonder. Moon Coven has the intrigue-infused “Conspiracy” in all its doomy glory and the title track off Hater’s latest release “Red Blinders”, is an uncharacteristically groove-driven track (which is a bit of a departure from the band’s typical jangley indie rock sound). Finally, it would be criminal not to mention Mark E. Smith, the frontman and snarling leader of The Fall. He died early this month and left a monumental catalogue of uncompromising and confrontational art like none other. Through over 30 releases since the bands inception in 1976, The Fall has persistently challenged and elevated rock as an art form. Never compromising and always evolving, The Fall with Smith’s leadership was everything rebel music should be. While not my favorite song from the band, I included “Kurious Oranji” from the album “I Am Kurious Oranje” because it’s so on theme. The album, written as a soundtrack for a ballet, was probably not the best representation of the band, but nonetheless a very solid record. There is an amazing library of recordings to explore, and at this point, if you don’t already know The Fall, I hope you are curious enough to check out more. Maybe start with 1979’s “Live At The Witch Trials”.