When I'm poking around Spotify for a good playlist, it's usually in the hopes of finding something that compliments the mood I'm in while hopefully hipping me to one or two new artists. Ideally, it's something that combines the comfort of the familiar with the satisfaction of discovery. Often, the "familiar" might only exist as a feeling, which is what Reverberation Radio excels at capturing.
There's a slightly embarrassing KEXP session with the band, the Allah-Las, that you can tap your toe and then cringe along with here. At one point, the host gushes about wanting to live in the world the Allah-Las capture on their Pinterest-esque website and then turn into aural good-vibes on their curated Reverberation Radio show (which is also available as a Spotify playlist). I believe it's the band's drummer, Matthew Correia, who's largely responsible for all this mood-setting, while it's the guitarist, Pedrum Siadatian, who's putting his former Amoeba clerkship to work on the Reverberation mixes. The images are all vintage snapshots of basking in California sunsets, Steve McQueen machismo, groovy bikinis and bellbottoms, outsized lapels and altogether far too homogenized and rose-color-glass-eyed. But hey, it's really on-brand, right? Whatever your thoughts on the image-building (or the throwback tunes of the Allah-Las), Reverberation Radio is more than collection of retro-coolness -- it's a reliably impressive source of fascinating deep-cuts that always contains one or two bands that released some psychedelically tinted gem of an album before dissolving into the dustbin aether of music history.
Some of these tunes are so obscure that you wonder what kind of witchery went into unearthing them. But whatever the methods, I'm forever grateful for the light shone on Sopwith Camel and their 1973 album The Miraculous Hump Returns From the Moon. And somehow, there's a new Sopwith Camel waiting to be discovered every time the playlist gets refreshed, which is around once a month or so, except when it's not.
A lot of bands have a "here's what we're listening to" type of playlist attached to their Spotify page, but so far I've yet to come across one as good as Wilco's. For starters, it's updated -- it's not just something thrown together one day to satisfy some PR obligation and left to moulder. And as you might expect from a group of veteran musicians, it's a stellar collection with impeccable taste.
More specifically, we have a 6+ hour collection that bounces from Parquet Courts to Glenn Gould and Kendrick Lamar to Vashti Bunyan, while covering just about everything in between. This is close to perfection -- the type of playlist you can turn to at any given occasion and kick off hours of great music. It's debatable as to how much consideration went into the song placement over these 81 tracks, but there are a few seemingly inspired transitions, such as going from Deerhoof's "The Devil and His Anarchic Surrealist Retinue" to a section of Peter and the Wolf, narrated by David Bowie.
This is my personal default, go-to playlist number one, thanks in part to it containing a lot of my current favorites, such as Joan Shelley, Kevin Morby, Steve Gunn and William Tyler, but also because it has what it promises: recommendations of artists to click through and discover. This is what led me to fantastic albums by Margaret Glaspy, Hue and Khun Narin's Electric Phin Band, just to name a few. That's what the best playlist do -- they keep giving. It can be passive but it can also act like a living thing that rewards your involvement with it. It's both an end and a beginning. There are still artists here that I've yet to reckon with, and that's a wonderful thing to have waiting for me.