Some Good Songs: Track 1

1.

Everyone says the third song on a record is the most important song. And everyone is wrong.

The first song gives listeners the gist of how they’ll spend the next 40 to 55 minutes. Without a gripping song to kick off an album, you either have no thesis statement or just a crappy one. If the first song sucks, chances are the rest of the album will, too.

There are exceptions to this rule. (See: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah [s] [am], Notes on a Conditional Form [s] [am], and, sure, probably a few others.)

That said, I spent countless times wearing out the first track of an album for days before I even move forward to the other nine or so. I believe that if the first thing you hear is too good, savor it and wait to move on. Hopefully the rest is just as good.


Playlists of the Week

This week’s playlists feature some of the best first songs on album. I say “some” because I couldn’t find a way to sequence “Feel” [s] [am], “New Mind” [s] [am], and a bunch of shoegaze tracks.

One playlist is rather gentle and easy to listen to. It is a nice relaxing 90 minutes for end-of-evening consumption, or an outdoor walk on a sunny day.

The other is mostly from a smattering of punk, post-punk, and punk-adjacent albums, some dating back to the mid-70s. Though louder in volume, these are some of the best (first) songs from the genre(s).

First [Spotify] [Apple Music]
First (but Louder) [Spotify] [Apple Music]


Album of the Week: Sault — Nine

You now have approximately 83 days left to listen to Sault’s Nine. That’s not my arbitrary timeline, either. The album “disappears” from the internet and streaming platforms on or around October 1st.

I probably need to get into a whole explanation of Sault. (I more or less did here for their previous album.)

Here’s the gist: Sault is an anonymous-but-not-really group composed of Inflo (producer of Michael Kiwanuka and Little Simz, among others), his wife, Cleo Sol [s] [am] and Chicago rapper Kid Sister, among others. They put out five amazing albums in about two years, each one as good and unique as the next while drawing on influences from R&B, post-punk, neo-soul, and funk.

Sault is also political in theme and tone. Last year’s Untitled (Black Is) [s] [am] came out on Juneteenth and speaks directly in response to everything that happened last spring/summer. Untitled (Rise) [s] [am] followed and is a beautiful celebration of Black joy. No one act or artist had an album that spoke so accurately about the zeitgeist while writing some of the best songs in years.

So, you should listen to Nine [s] [am], which is definitely on the more abrasive, post-punk side of the band’s work. I recommend first listening to the band’s earlier releases in the order they were released, starting with 5 [s] [am] and 7 [s] [am] followed by the albums mentioned above. Truthfully, you should stop reading this right now and power through the band’s discography instead.


Etc.

  • The new album by the Goon Sax is terrible, but their last one, We’re Not Talking, is perfect. [s] [am] Especially if you love the Go-Betweens.
  • I was really looking forward to a Mariah the Scientist album, and it released out of nowhere last Friday. It is good, not great, but I love the track “RIP.” [s] [am]
  • Don’t sleep on the new Tyler the Creator album from a week or so ago. [s] [am]
  • I’m still digesting John Caroll Kirby’s latest record, but his ambient works from last year are not to be missed. [s] [am]
  • I Think You Should Leave Season 2 is out on Netflix, and I don't even want to be around anymore.

Album Release Calendar: Week of 7/11

Albums coming out this week that might be worth your time. Released on Friday unless indicated otherwise.

  • Aaron Dilloway & Lucrecia Dalt (7/13)
  • May the Circle Remain Unbroken
  • Midwife
  • A Place to Bury Strangers
  • Wavves
  • Clairo
  • Cakes Da Killa
Scott Steinhardt

Scott Steinhardt