Saturday, December 14, 2019

#13 Jefferson Airplane (+ my favorite songs of 2019)

1991 Pro Set MusiCards #13 Jefferson Airplane. 
Jefferson Airplane's second card in the set is an improvement over their first. I mean, you can actually see their faces on this one. It's a fine if unremarkable shot of the members hanging out near a building looking like they're on a smoke break.

The back picture seems to be from the same photoshoot as the front (same outfits). Minor typo in the write-up, as their Monterey Jazz Festival appearance was actually in 1966 (not 1967) according to Wikipedia. The person writing these likely mixed it up with Monterey International Pop Music Festival, which was a different concert that Jefferson Airplane also played, and that one was in '67.

When I was a young'un in the 80s, my mom had Jefferson Airplane's 1967 breakout album Surrealistic Pillow in her record collection. We'd slap it on the ol' turntable once in a blue moon. My favorites were "Somebody To Love" and "White Rabbit" (which isn't a big surprise since those were their two greatest hits), with the other songs not doing much for me.

Jefferson Airplane - "White Rabbit" (live at Woodstock)

I have a distinct early memory of asking my mom about the lyrics to "White Rabbit". I figured out the song was sort of about Alice In Wonderland-- familiar to me via the classic Disney animated film-- but I couldn't make out the closing lyrics at the end. My mom told me the line was "Think ahead". Like, oh yeah, (as the Boy Scouts advised) be prepared, and all that. Years later I realized the actual lyrics were "Feed your head"-- in line with the song's underlying drug theme. To this day I'm not sure if my mom was just softening the reality for me (as parents often do with their innocent, naive children), or if she truly misheard the words. I should try to ask her sometime if the situation ever presents itself. (My mom was always pretty straight-laced, though in recent years, she has shared with me that there've been a small number of times in her life that she smoked the wacky tobacky.)


I thought I'd try having fun recording a version of "White Rabbit" of my own this morning. It's quite the catastrophe and although only 2 minutes long, I doubt anyone will be able to get to the end. But the challenge is there if you're up for it! Fiberoctopus - White Rabbit.mp3

Doing something a little different for the Custom Corner today. Since we're into mid December and year-end lists are popping up, I figured I'd identify my favorite songs of the year. I might cheat a bit and dip into songs from a year or two ago-- hey, I wasn't doing a music-centric blog until this year-- but the bottom line is these are a few "current" songs I've been digging in 2019.

As an aside, this year marked my entry into streaming music. I've been chiefly an mp3-listener since around the turn of the millenium. At home, I'd mainly listen to mp3s via iTunes. Away from home, I'd listen to mp3s on my iPod (or CDs in the car). My wife had switched over to Spotify a while back, and earlier this year I got a family-plan add-on with her. Seems like a pretty good deal. I haven't completely switched my listening habits to streaming, but I'd say I'm about 50-50 now between iTunes and Spotify, trying to embrace streaming more going forward.

Though I'm north of my 40th birthday and most of my favorite songs are what I was into as a younger dude, I still like to keep myself open to new music. I'm not into the majority of what's on the charts these days, but there's definitely still some good stuff out there. (I'll admit, though, that most of the modern stuff I dig is unabashedly harkening back to the 80s and/or 90s.)

I'm also still discovering cool music from the past that I hadn't encountered before, but I think I'll do a separate list for "Old songs I've been digging in 2019".. So expect that in the next post or the one after. But for today, I'll try to limit it to songs released in the past year or two.

Big Thief - Not
Big Thief - Paul
Big Thief - Cattails
Big Thief is an indie rock/folk band I just discovered a couple months ago. The Brooklyn-based quartet released their first album in 2016. Their latest, Two Hands, came out in October 2019. My introduction to them was a clip from when they were a musical guest on Stephen Colbert performing "Not" which I really enjoyed, and around that same time, a guy on Twitter was mentioning how great the new album was, so I checked it out and eventually gave a listen to their earlier stuff too. Of these 3 favorite songs I've linked above, I think "Paul" is actually from their first record, while "Not" and "Cattails" are from the new one. Think I'd crown these guys my "Favorite newly-discovered active band of 2019".

Morrissey - Back on the Chain Gang
I've been a big fan of Morrissey (and his earlier band The Smiths) since high school (early/mid 90s), though with a few exceptions, his output from the past couple decades hasn't done a whole lot for me (not to mention some of his eyebrow-raising comments that paint him as a bit of a crotchety old twat these days). But this cover of the Pretenders' classic, a bonus track on his latest release, is wonderful. Somebody on Twitter said it was even better than the original, though I'm not sure I'd go that far. (Morrissey has a real MusiCard, by the way, so we'll cover him further someday.)

FM-84 - Bend & Break (Instrumental)
FM-84 is another new band I got into a year or two ago. As the name would imply, they've got a retro 80s vibe. Chillwave or Synthwave? Vaporwave maybe?.. I'm not cool enough to know exactly what you call this type of music, but it makes for a great modern trip back to the 80s. Sounds like something you might hear in the score for Beverly Hills Cop or Knight Rider. I generally prefer their instrumental stuff, as the vocals tend to pull me out of the moment and back into the 21st century.

R. Stevie Moore / Jason Falkner - I H8 Ppl
This is a fun song about hating people in general, which I can relate to, as an introverted homebody. Turns out it's from 2017, but I only heard it recently when it appeared on a mix Spotify put together for me.

Julia Michaels - In This Place
This is an awesome, ridiculous song that plays during the end credits of the Ralph Breaks The Internet. It's almost like a parody of a modern pop song (it's about a fictional video game called Slaughter Race [in earnest] and it's chockful of over the top autotuned vocal clips), but I love it!

Susto - Last Century
El Ten Eleven - You Are Enough
A couple more recent rock songs that Spotify recommended to me. They sound like they're from the 90s, which I mean as a compliment. I've been wanting to check out more of each of these bands' stuff, though haven't gotten around to it yet.

The Glands - Atmosphere
The Glands - Save a Place For You
More songs that harken back to the 90s, but only came out recently. See, the main guy behind The Glands (an indie rock band active around the turn of the millenium) passed away from lung cancer a while back, but they scraped together a posthumous album of leftovers and rarities that came out in late 2018. "Atmosphere" is a great mid-90s sounding pop rock song, complete with vinyl scratching in the chorus. "Save a Place For You" on the other hand is a hauntingly beautiful song featuring only piano and voice. I'll have to feature The Glands more in a future Custom Corner, as they're a fantastic, relatively unknown band.

Jenny Lewis - Red Bull & Hennessy
I miss her early days in Rilo Kiley when she was less polished, though Jenny still cranks out quality album after quality album.

Lizzo - Good as Hell
It was a trip for me to see Lizzo get so popular this year. Back in 2014, I saw her open for Macaulay Culkin's band Pizza Underground in a packed small club. I hadn't heard of her at the time and thought her set was surprisingly good, but still wouldn't have predicted her to one day be up for Record of the Year and 7 other Grammys. She's also scheduled to be the musical guest on Saturday Night Live next week for Eddie Murphy's long-awaited return to the show. Should be a fun episode.

Lizzo - "Good As Hell"

I hope that if you listened to any of these tracks, you found at least a song or two you enjoyed!

How about you? What new stuff have you been listening to in 2019? Let me know in the comments and I'll check it out.


  1. I've only heard one new song I liked this year, at least from an artist I wasn't a fan of already (Lil Nas X "Panini"). My boss listens to country music all day long so I just come home and play familiar tunes at night. It was a long time before I could bring myself to play Morrissey again, that guy's always been a miserable wanker but I never expected such a hard right turn. The man can sing though!

    1. Modern country is one genre I can't do. There's a great new restaurant by us that plays nothing but country and it's tough to even get through an excellent meal.. couldn't imagine having to hear it at work everyday!

  2. Can't listen to White Rabbit without thinking of the scene in Platoon with Sheen and Dafoe. When it comes to music... I typically stick to 70's rock, 80's everything, and 90's alternative and hip hop. But I do add a lot of current songs to my Spotify for my students. Don't have the names of the songs memorized, but I recognize Panini from Lil Nas X.

    1. I need to watch Platoon again one of these days. And yeah, that "Panini" song isn't too bad. I hope he comes out with other songs titled "Topps" and "Upper Deck" next.. lol

  3. The only "new" stuff I discovered this year was a band I kept hearing on a local radio station called The Dustbowl Revival. The songs themselves are a few years old, but you can listen to the whole album Here: (Busted and Call My Name are particularly good).

    1. Checked out some Dustbowl Revival.. good stuff; thanks for the recommendation!

  4. I've reached the stage in life where just about every "new" song I discover during the year is from some earlier year. I can't take most modern music and don't have the time anymore to search for the good stuff. I've purchased only two 2019-released albums (I'm surprised artists create albums anymore given current listening habits, but I hope they keep doing it because albums are the greatest way to express music). One of those 2019 albums was Jenny Lewis' "On the Line". it was pretty good, but unfortunately I associate it with my dying mother because of when it came out. :(

    1. Yeah, it's rough when music you like gets linked to a hard time in your life.

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