Shoegaze Heaven, our highly anticipated (by me) latest playlist is now available on Spotify and Apple Music. I have been waiting for the “cold” months to post this one because these tunes, these bands, no matter when I listen, give me the coziness, darkest, warmth that I need; emitting balance and centeredness with the ether and uncertainty that lies ahead. And it feels fucking good. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had Is the Is Are by DIIV on repeat this year…also OSHIN…also Deceiver. And bands like Chapterhouse have this effect of being inside an abandoned, blue-tinted, cob-webbed, mansion with the windows open all around. It’s great. Cinematic, etherial, time-altering. Great for season affective disorder (for me) because, just like my beloved bands on the emo spectrum (emotive, imaginative), this whisks me and my spiked hot apple cider up and carries us clear into our fuzziest daydreams.
20 years ago, my family reunited in Philly. It was summer, and my mom, dad, brother and I went to this outdoor concert that was hella black, and epic, and Jill Scott performed and we got to meet her!! It was insane – I think Mary Mary was there. Also, Jill Scott was my first concert, at 13, girl. my brother took me…that was probably at the Mann? And I pretty much listened to Who Is, Ajuswaneseng, and Juslisen for the entirety of my middle-school career and learned nearly everything I understand about love from these two!! damn. Carl Thomas, Avant, Jagged Edge? JOE. ALICIA. ASHANTI. excuse me?! I cherish this era of R&B, who doesn’t at this point? But it meant a lot in our house and we loved to boogie around and shake our little butts and sing along in the car, and get in our feelings, and reflect, and feel grateful.
Today’s my Dad’s birthday!! So, to honor that, I’m posting this playlist of 00s R&B favorites. Enjoy!
Renaissance, Man.Caught up with Johnny Taylor III, a.k.a. Taylor Made By The God on his latest release Valley Drive.
Listen closely to Johnny Taylor’s debut full-length album under his new moniker Taylor Made By the God and you’ll notice the voice on Valley Drive is of someone who’s done the internal work. This is hard to do for many in general, let alone this year, and to make it happen when you’re coming from the ground up with the goal to remain a wholly independent artist, you need to know how to preserve. As a filmmaker, who has spent most of life working multiple jobs to aid my creative efforts, I understand, and Taylor delivers an overview of how it’s going with point-blank insight.
There’s something very chic and very boutique about Valley Drive and Taylor the artist, and I’m not just referring to the fact that Taylor is also a literal fashion designer(see: Look At her Dance and Signature Garment). It’s a cinematic record, which leaves much anticipation for what’s in store for Taylor Made Television, and at 27 minutes, it’s a sharp read. But what I love most about Taylor’s music is the space left for contemplation, outstanding on tracks like Exactly and 6 Months Later.
Airy from the Intro, we land on an old school track to set the course, welcome a little distraction, remain on track, take stock of our unique place in our space, try to heal some lingering wounds, and “arrive” at a harmonious Outro into whatever’s next that at any other point in time might feel like an ominous end to such a self-assured record, but in this case? fits perfectly for “these times”.
ID: Tell us about the process of making this album.
JT: I just took my time. Living more in the moment helped a lot. Life outside of work got tough to balance. When I got right I got back. I love film, so I’m always producing like it’s for a premiere. Writing became natural with going through life. I recorded most of the album in West Chester before the pandemic. When COVID hit it unlocked something. That time away from work created more space to produce. Re-recorded some of the album, added some songs & gave it the art it deserved. I made this album with some of the best energy around, so when you get away take Valley Drive.
ID: What’s up next?
JT: I’m working on another project (Cæm 4 D.R.U.G.S.) for next year. Very different. Taylor Made Television just launched on Instagram. More on that soon. ALLNIGHT R&B Mix Vol. 2 on the way. More visuals & art work coming. Love You Right film in theaters soon.
ID: Anything else you’d like us to know?
JT: Pay attention.
ID: Finally! What tracks / albums have been on loop for you this year?
JT: Snoh Aalegra’s last album hasn’t left my rotation.
Ari Lennox bodied “Bussit”.
“Side PonyTail” by Big Bank Beisha.
“Palm Angels” by Armani Caesar.
“Hit Different” by SZA, because finally.
Noname’s “Song 33”.
I love Jhené Aiko’s “On The Way”.
Marsha’s contribution to The Game’s “I Didn’t Wanna Write This Song” gets me every time.
Oh man, this took me foreverrrr. First off, super thrilled about the fact that our featured artist this month is Taylor Made By The God (formerly ALLNIGHT), in celebration of the re-release of VALLEY DRIVE and you can stay tuned for an interview ON THAT! Right now, here is the much. belabored. list of tracks we’re into this month:
JUNGLEPUSSY / MAIN ATTRACTION
ZILCHED / SIXTEEN
COACH PARTY / CAN'T TALK, WON'T
SHELLY / NATURAL
BABY ROSE / IN YOUR ARMS (DELUXE RELEASE)
ERIKA DE CASIER / NO BUTTERFLIES, NO NOTHING
TAYLOR MADE BY THE GOD / POINTE BLANK
LUCIA TACCHETTI, CASERO / LABERINTO
SLOW PULP / TRACK
AFLOAT, RYAN CULLEN / MOODY
P.S.A. This year has been tough and it’s been hard to stay motivated, but music helps. Remember to try and keep focus on your health, work towards your creative goals, check in with friends when you can, and when the positivity ain’t kickin’ in, try the ol’ putting on a record and dancing alone in your room!!!! 💖
Hopefully, this playlist brings some new tunes and good vibes into your day /week/ month/ year.
The strand is my favorite bookstore and it is at risk of closing, so I am leaving this here and pleading that y’all take an opportunity to shop on their website for your next book or holiday gift. The film section is out of this world, as is the sociology unit downstairs. I love getting lost in the YA section buying gifts for the kids in my life and reflecting on how I would stay forever in the school library picking which set of best friends I was going to read about next. Books are essential and shopping IRL at this place is an experience that I truly deeply miss not living in NYC, but I’m close and I go as often as I can and I do not want this place to close or my heart and millions of hearts will crumble. Consider shopping online at the Strand today and visiting when you’re in NYC for an affordable outing. It’s right off the Union Square stop.
The world continues to be a doozy, to say the absolute very least, so I’m going to keep the cover still for a while. A moment of silence of sorts as we continue to celebrate great new music coming out of humans through all of this 🙂
Here are all the wonderful artists with recent releases to watch for August 2020:
This genre is dear to my heart. Perfect for the upbeat summer we’re having lololol. But seriously do feel this adds a much needed level of brightness to these sunny daze. Who can resist The Cars, Big Star, The Feelies, Teenage Fanclub, The Lemonheads? Am I driving a Plymouth with the top down right now? Is my Jean jacket magic?
WHO AM I.
I learned a good number of the earlier bands through the soundtracks of my favorite childhood movies…
I’ll never forget seeing Letters to Cleo emerge from the crowd to sing directly to Cat in 10 Things I Hate About You and that solidifying in me the fact that music is the most personal special connective thing! And plus, they fuckin’ ripped. Outfits, hair, mood.
And thanks to that, I traveled down the rabbit hole to find That Dog…etc and during this playlist I came across even MORE bops I hadn’t met yet. Ain’t life grand.