Hello Verge readers, how are you? I'm Matthew Schnipper a behind the scenes dude here at your favorite website. You may not know me unless you are a deep Verge nerd. Another lifetime ago (six months ago) I was the editor of The FADER, a publication focusing on what's next in music and culture. After covering many, many artists who were half my age and feeling both excited and, like, suicidal about that, I migrated to The Verge where I now oversee all of our large features and cool special projects (shout out to next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, btw).
While editing up a storm or whatever I have been #blessed to not have to keep up with any cool music which has enabled me to fall down a YouTube and Rdio rabbit hole. (Can you fall down a rabbit hole while at a standing desk? Unclear.) So while I learned about Bobby Shmurda along with the general population and still haven't listened to the FKA Twigs album, I definitely have discovered and rediscovered a glut of sick jams in my nascent Verge days. In honor of Hack Week, here is a bunch of bullshit that is not in any way forward thinking, and totally indulgent, that, if you catch me in the right light, I will probably claim "changed my life." May yours be changed as well. PS no Grateful Dead I spared u.
1. DJ Qu, "Runwitit"
Starting with the thing I got into most recently. I don't know who DJ Qu is tbh, but saw his name in some British record store's email newsletter, a thing, in the past, I would never have read because it was all about records that had already been released. The newsletter just said he was deep house and I liked the record sleeve so I googled. This song is kinda like samba deep house with twinkly parts aka I listened to it like 1000 times since yesterday.
2. Charlemagne Palestine, "Strumming Music"
What's that? You also want to listen to a guy play two notes on a piano for an hour? Super beautiful and meditative. Think I went through round 4 of our Jesselyn Radack profile juiced on this guy.
3. Cryptopsy, "Open Face Surgery"
I've had some light dances with the death metal devil but never fully took her out to a salsa club (block that metaphor!). Since getting Rdio, I have discovered that basically every death metal record I have wanted to jam is readily available for me. Excellent music for when you need to just get hella shit done and block out the universe. Cryptopsy has proven to be a serious favorite due to their proggy nature. Technical death metal is really what I like FYI.
4. The Beverleys, "Bad Audio"
Classic scuzzy punk I kinda stumbled upon in a deep Bandcamp downward spiral and then listened to and excitedly told my friends I found a cool new punk band honestly because I actually did want to feel cool for once. Guess what it didn't work. Totally sneering, sounds like it was recorded in a sweet trash can.
5. Ornette Coleman, "Spelling the Alphabet"
I went out to a wedding in San Francisco a month or so ago and spent a good deal of time just talking with my friend Jacob who lives out there, who I don't get to see much. I also spent a lot of time trying to get his cats to like me, which eventually they did. Jacob and I had an indulgently long conversation about Ornette Coleman and the nature of language, credit for big ideas and perceived craziness. It was moving. Anyway, it ended with him saying I really should give a chance to some of Ornette's Prime Time albums from the mid/late ’80s. This track, from ’88's Virgin Beauty, is really quick and fun. Kinda punchy! I was a big jazz dork for awhile so nice to hear something like this I really slept on.
6. The xx, "Chained"
Man, no one cared about this record? Why? I've been jamming it lately at home and it's really beautiful. "Chained" has this really sad and lovely couplet song in duet by Romy and Oliver, "Did I hold you too tight?/ Did I not let enough light in?" Maybe overall vibe-wise, Coexist is not as strong a statement as their kinda crushingly precocious debut, but the songwriting is just so much better. Worth a serious listen if you dismissed it, as many did.
7. Lana Del Rey, "Summertime Sadness (MK's Feel it in the Air Remix)"
Not a Lana fan but holy crap this remix is huge. MK is a classic, classic dance floor dude and this shit just knocks so hard. Can Lana just make records that sound like this from scratch? I wonder if she has heard this. My coworker Michael sent this to me and I've had a tab of it open on my browser for days and days. I bought a bootleg 12-inch of it on eBay which I feel excited to tell you, then embarrassed, then excited.
8. Whitney Houston, "Million Dollar Bill (Frankie Director's Cut Signature Club Mix)"
I discovered this remix when Frankie Knuckles died. I'd always been fond of the original, a fairly joyous track, but Knuckles elevates it. The drums are hard and Whitney is just going off! The filter is like steam sizzling off the pavement in the summer. God I am listening to this again now and it just such a huge jam. This is like the pure joy I felt dancing at my Bar Mitzvah bottled. Best dancing ever? Potentially.
9. Flipper, "Shed No Tears"
Tired of feeling good? Me too! Flipper was a big important band for me as a little young dude feeling lots of feelings but I'm not sure I really comprehended the sublimity of this song's existential dread until recently. Shed no tears for the suicide/ He had made his choice/ The pain of life is great. Kinda? Not sure? But gosh do they make you feel like that is the only way to think. Had an unhinged moment where I was just listening to this nonstop. Shed no tears for the cop bleeding/ He once held a gun... Still apt for our times. Blech, though.
10. Sonic Youth, "I Love You Golden Blue"
If you are like me, you did not get into the late-period Sonic Youth albums. Rdio changed that, as I slowly went through looking for the intersection of the pretty songs with the Kim songs and the Lee songs. "I Love You Golden Blue," the second to last track on 2004's Sonic Nurse, is blissfully tender, Kim Gordon whispering sweet nothing about a "dead boy." Her voice lilts, kind of scratchy over shy guitar. I have listened to this 1 million times.
11. Origin, "The Burner"
I used to get the Relapse Records catalog in the mail when I was in middle school because somehow I had heard about Brutal Truth and was obsessed with them, but the death metal section was just too deep for me. So recently I just sorted by label in Rdio and went through everything on Relapse I never heard. Look, realistically, I don't know shit about death metal. I can't sell you on this. I'm not an expert. I just like crazy drums! This shit sounds absurd. It does not sound like music made by humans.
12.Julius Steinhoff, "Cheetah Nights"
Possibly my favorite discovery of the last six months. I've taken to reading Resident Advisor most days and this came highly recommended, plus the album cover has a drawing of a dog wearing a baseball cap so I had to check it out. It's a very neatly contained house record. Not wildly adventurous but meticulous and thusly compelling it in expertise. Like, maybe it does not go 110%? Not every record needs to be Yeezus. Maybe it tries for 95% only, but boy does it hit a home run on that 95%, a full 100% on the 95%. Do you know what I mean?