For our feature Nice Playlist, Brah, we ask some of our favorite musicians to make a themed Spotify playlist for us. You know, Songs to Make-out To, The Worst Bands I Have Ever Heard, Songs Your Mom Would Like, we just ask them to be creative, and then we post them to The Ardent Music Blog and share them with you. When you’re looking for a good Spotify playlist, now you know where to look. This week we invited Mike Pomranz of World Blanket to put one together for us. We invite you to take listen to the playlist while you read why the musician included each song. Enjoy!
One of my favorite parts of music is rediscovering music.
Each year is a never-ending stream of new releases, typically piling up while your still digesting the records accumulated during every previous year of your life. But luckily, you don’t have to keep up. Sometimes you just want the equivalent of musical comfort food: Sure a hot new restaurant opened up, but let’s just go to the same Italian place we’ve been getting pasta at for years.
For me, 2011 was all about the 1970s. The completist in me took hold and I realized three things: 1) Most of the classic rock CD collection I acquired as a kid had never even been imported into my iTunes. 2) A suddenly, seemingly insurmountable number of my favorite albums I didn’t even own. 3) A ton of great ’70s artists I had been avoiding all together. Probably due to my apprehensions about failing steps 1 & 2.
And so last year became the year I tried to patch many of the holes in my favorite decade of music. And surprisingly, last year became the most enjoyable year for music I can remember in a long time.
Here are 9 tunes that I can’t believe I was living without.
1) Electric Light Orchestra – “Telephone Line”
Of my most neglected artists, ELO topped the list. Growing up in the ’90s, a lot of teenagers had the entire catalog of bands like Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd, but for obvious reasons, not many kids were pining for a new Electric Light Orchestra box set. This situation needed to be rectified. According to my iTunes, “Telephone Line” got the most plays of any song last year, and though it may be a bit of a clichéd choice, can you fault me?
2) The Doobie Brothers – “I Cheat the Hangman”
In revisiting The Doob’s records, Stampede quickly overtook the hit-laden album The Captain and Me as my favorite. The brilliantly produced and orchestrated “I Cheat the Hangman” is easily the LPs highlight, taking listeners on a nearly “cinematic” journey. It left me wondering how a band can put so much work into an album track, until I later learned that this 6 1/2 minute epic was released as a single. Mind-blowing.
3) Humble Pie – “You’re So Good for Me”
Inspired by reading Keith Richards autobiography, 2011 was also the year of learning to re-appreciate open tunings. But you don’t need to know anything about guitar to hear that “You’re So Good for Me” could be one of the most neglected classic rock gems of all time. Humble Pie is so undervalued it’s kind of sickening.
4) Ike & Tina Turner – “It Ain’t Right (Lovin’ to Be Lovin’)”
Back to Mr. Keith Richards, he name drops the album Come Together in his book, and the album doesn’t disappoint. The open-tuned, opening track “It Ain’t Right” is probably about as Stones-y as Ike & Tina ever got (including when they covered The Stones!) Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
5) Hall & Oates – “Rich Girl”
“Rich Girl” might seem a little out of place, but I listened to this tune a lot last year. First, it’s so damn short… But second, it’s one of the best written songs of all time. Seriously. Go listen to it. The song opens with the hook and never turns back. The song structure is so flawless it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around — a rare song without a moment of filler.
6) Gerry Rafferty – “Right Down the Line”
Something funny happened on the way to me obsessing over Rafferty’s “Baker Street.” I realized that the song right after it on City to City is even better. Gerry Rafferty passed away 4 days into 2011 and the world lost one of its greatest songwriters.
7) Ned Doheny – “Get It Up for Love”
Should I even tell you guys about Ned Doheny? He’s become my guilty secret. A friend turned me onto him at a holiday party. He’s a ’70s songwriter that sounds like the California sun. Does Spotify even have this song? If it does, go listen to Hard Candy.
8) Foghat – “Take It or Leave It”
Foghat might be known for “Slow Ride,” but for my money the band’s best track off Fool for the City is the steady strum of “Take It of Leave It.” It’s indicative of the ’70s in general: a time when rock still had its roll. iTunes says I’ve listened to this song 8 times since importing it on July 23rd. I can’t wait for the weather to warm up so I can give it another spin. I owe it a few extra listens after making it wait in a dusty box of CDs on the shelf for over two decades.
9) Todd Rundgren – “Can We Still Be Friends”
Sometimes you think you know a song, but revisiting it, new stuff stands out. Case in point, “Can We Still Be Friends?”: it’s classic Rundgren with a classic melody, but all these years later, I’ve really learned to appreciate the many vocal overdubs that launch the song into its “la la la” sing-along climax. Not my favorite Rundgren track, but I gave the tune a ton of listens taking in that unique production approach. That was kind of Todd’s thing, right?
Michael Pomranz, the songwriter behind World Blanket, didn’t grow up in a musical household, but his house held music. At the age of 13, Pomranz and a friend discovered treasure in his basement in the form of a vintage Martin acoustic guitar. The instrument was hidden there by Pomranz’s uncle who had been sent off to prison for drug trafficking. “He hid it to keep it from being seized,” Pomranz explains.
With the pending release of 2012, Pomranz has been able to satisfy a love of making rock and roll that had taken a back seat to his life of making comedy. It was meant to be though – if a teenager’s basement reveals a hidden guitar, it’s probably for a reason. 2012 by World Blanket will be released on the band’s own No Applause Records label on April 3rd, 2012.
Check out all of our Spotify playlists on The Ardent Music Blog! Thanks to Mike Pomranz of World Blanket for contributing!