Providing tales of introspection in a manner that still come across as relatable, Jodi aka Nick Levine, possesses a timeless sense of songwriting. Be it sitting in the back of the car on those long childhood drives. or flicking through photo books at a relative’s house, rather than accompanying extended periods of your life, what Levine does so well instead is soundtrack moments, feelings, nostalgia.
To accompany their latest release, Hawks, we caught up with the Sooper signed creative to see what they’ve been listening to as of late. Here are their picks.
John Prine – Knocking On Your Screen Door
The perfect spring album. It’s hot out in Chicago, as of recently, so I’ve been listening to this in the car with the windows wide. John Prine is probably the most charming person to have ever walked this earth, right? I’m thinking of a quote from the Pitchfork interview he did around this record where he’s being asked about how he processes death, and he describes the mixture of joy and grief when remembering someone as feeling like you are ‘this great, awful candy bar, walking around in a pair of shoes.’ Anyways, if John Prine knocked on my screen door asking for help opening a can of pork and beans, I would’ve invited him in.
Washington Phillips – Lift Him Up That’s All
Earlier during the pandemic, there was a period of time where this record was the only thing that sounded like music to me, nothing else would do. I listened to it all the time, usually just off my phone speakers, in the kitchen while I made food, walking through the woods, etc. A very special collection of songs (The Key to the Kingdom) from a man who seemingly put aside musical ambitions to be a man of the cloth (William Onyeabor later did the same, notably). God runs through both of them, though. The best music, the purest expressions like this, make it hard not to believe in the mystery.
Spirit of the Beehive – The Server Is Immersed
I’ve been trying to get into running recently, a habit that does not come naturally to me, so to get myself out there I’ve felt like I needed to trick myself. One strategy that’s been working has been to only let myself listen to this bonkers and beautiful record if I’m going out to exercise. It’s such a fun and active listen, there’s so much going on and always new things to discover in the recordings, that it really occupies my brain in a situation where that is something I am desperately seeking. And since I want to listen to it often, there’s extra motivation for kicking my own ass for the duration of an album every few days. I think Entertainment, Death is the kind of record that demands a full listen but this track is a standout, and also marks the point in my run where I’m usually beginning to feel accomplished.
Curtis Mayfield – When Seasons Change
There is just so much restraint in this arrangement. The drums just hang out on the hi-hat on two and four most of the time, and although it builds, the beat never really drops. So special, so inspired. I get chills when the super dry vocal comes in every time. Curtis doesn’t totally get his flowers, I think. Really one of the best ever. There’s No Place Like America Today is a beautiful, underrated release in a catalogue full of them.
Doc Watson – Tom Dooley
I like to sit down with a guitar in my hand and try to play along to this album. I learned some flatpicking tunes with my friend Tyler about a year ago and still have so much work to do to get myself up to speed on that kind of playing, but it’s so fun to work on. This one’s a fingerpicker, though. The vocal phrasing makes it such an earworm; it’s an older tune, but I like Doc’s take on it the most. I walk dogs for my day job and like to make up silly songs to sing to them sometimes, and while a murder ballad is perhaps slightly dark to riff on in that context, I don’t think the dogs really mind. (Hang your head Miss Piggy, hang your head and cry/ You ate up all the kibble, now it’s time to say goodbye).
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