WYSO's Spring 2020 Favorites: Tod Weidner
During the spring sequestration this year, we had a lot of time to listen, and reflect. WYSO asked our music hosts about the sounds they spent time with this past season, and we’re collecting their thoughts and picks for you! From new releases to old classics, here’s WYSO’s Spring 2020 Favorites, from Tod Weidner of The Jewel Case.
As we’re all no doubt painfully aware, spring this year coincided with the rise of COVID-19, and it’s been interesting how that’s influenced my listening. The stress, the anxiety, and the uncertainty of the world has driven me to old favorites – the musical equivalent of comfort food. But, at the same time, the sudden infusion of extra time to fill day to day has inspired me to dive into some less familiar waters. I’m very fortunate to live a short drive away from an entrance to the south end of the San Francisco Bay Trail, which allows me to take long daily walks in a place where pelicans and ducks vastly outnumber the people I meet, and the wide open space makes for a great environment to put in my earbuds and get lost for a while. Here are some of the albums I’ve been getting lost to:
Los Lobos - Kiko (1992)
This is on my short list of all-time favorite albums – maybe even at the top of it. It’s a buffet of sounds and styles that I keep returning to again and again. There’s always something new to hear in it. Los Lobos is a fantastic band, with many great albums, but they never topped this one.
Brian Eno - Ambient 1: Music For Airports (1978)
What can I say? This album is a balm. Eno was travelling a lot, and he was fed up with the canned muzak he heard in airport terminals, so he composed music that he described as “as ignorable as it is interesting”. He designed it as a sound installation to loop continuously and provide a calm atmosphere in the notoriously tense and anxious airport environment. I started out this spring with a short trip home to Dayton, and I decided to wander around SFO with this in my ears, and I’ll be doggone if it didn’t work like a charm. The next time the world gangs up on you – and doesn’t it seem to be unnervingly good at that lately? – put this on. You can thank me later.
Fantastic Negrito - The Last Days of Oakland (2017)
Kind of the yin to Music For Airports’ yang, if you will – it’s angry, it’s dense, it’s visceral, it’s funky as all get out, and Xavier Dphrepaullez (AKA Fantastic Negrito) is as soulful and arresting a singer as you’re likely to find these days. This album won a Blues Grammy in 2017, but there’s at least as much Sly & the Family Stone in its DNA as there is blues; there must be something in the water of the San Francisco Bay, I guess.
Miles Davis - Filles De Kilimanjaro (1968)
A sleeper in Miles’ catalog, nestled between his post-bop period and the burgeoning fusion style of In A Silent Way. I owned it years ago and never really bonded with it. On a whim, I repurchased it this spring and discovered it to be weirdly perfect for long, empty walks on bright, sunny days. Just goes to show you how important context can be with art of any kind.
Sinkane - Mars (2012)
Sinkane (born Ahmed Gallab) moved to the States at age 5 with his college professor parents from the growing political violence in Sudan. He lived in Columbus for a while, eventually playing with indie giants like Yeasayer, Of Montreal, Caribou, and others. Sinkane is his project as a leader, and it combines some of that indie sensibility with a healthy dollop of African sounds. Very cool, indeed. I got to catch Sinkane live last summer and really enjoyed it.
Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters (2020)
Apple’s first album in 8 years, and one of the first new releases to come out during Quarantine (that I know of) – and the timing was perfect. This is another dense, claustrophobic album – it’s not necessarily an easy listen, but if you like not knowing what sonics are lurking around the next corner, you may want to give it a listen. It really does a good job providing a soundtrack to an upended world.
Jimmy Vaughan - Baby, Please Come Home (2019)
The older I get, the more I appreciate Jimmie Vaughan’s understated cool to the flash and pyrotechnics of his late younger brother Stevie Ray. This came out last year, but you could be forgiven for thinking it’s been around since 1960. When it comes to blues (and reggae, as well, for that matter), I’ve always thought that modern, slick production more often than not distracts from the grittiness of the music and subject matter; the blues has to sound like a smoke filled bar, with pool tables and unsavory characters lurking in the shadows and, man oh man, this one delivers on that. Pure, classic R&B, complete with backup singers and horns – Jimmie’s the Real Deal.
Listen to Tod every Thursday night from 8-11 PM on The Jewel Case.