The Internet is chock-full of awfulness. It’s everywhere you turn. If you don’t believe me, simply scroll down after watching any YouTube video — seriously, ANY YouTube video — and you’ll encounter the very bottom of humanity’s communicative barrel. Just ask Josh Tillman, who recently sat down to respond to a few of the thoughts posted below a Father John Misty video (it’s worth watching — he kicks things off by aptly comparing YouTube comments to “shitting on your own face”).

But things aren’t all bad. There certainly are some Internet good guys out there, and I count Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij among their ranks.

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Meshell Ndegeocello

Pour Une Âme Souveraine

OK. Before going any further, I need to go ahead and post this link to the “Wild Night” video. Let’s just get that out of the way now, because you and I both know I was going to work it in somehow, and Meshell Ndegeocello’s new album, Pour Une Âme Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone, deserves your undivided attention. (Seriously though, that “Wild Night” video is one of the best things ever crafted by humans. I’m pretty sure it went in and out of style about 5 times in the few minutes it took me to rewatch it just now. Just incredible.)

I’ve been on a big Nina Simone kick lately, one that started in earnest when I stumbled across her To Love Somebody covers album a few weeks back. (I’ve been scouring record stores for the thing to no avail, though I did pick up a copy of The Amazing Nina Simone, which is, itself, amazing). Like so many others have been, I was struck by Simone’s ability to make songs her own, even folk standards that had already been revisited a number of times and Dylan songs that could not be more distinctive in their own right. Her voice is simply unstoppable. It’s an immensely powerful, singular method of expression that makes an indelible mark on anything it touches, and I know for sure that I’ll never hear the original versions of the songs on To Love Somebody the same way again.

So how on earth do you go about making an album like Pour Une Âme Souveraine? How do you interpret one of the great interpreters of music without the tool that made her great? It’s a really interesting question, and it’s one Meshell Ndegeocello answers with grace and creativity.

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The Most Americans

So raise your hand if you’re excited about the new Ginger Baker documentary! Good friend of the blog Greg recently passed along this New York Times review, which paints a pretty intriguing picture…

Animated sequences depict a ship, rowed by the drummer’s red-haired avatars, zigzagging the globe — from London to Nigeria to Los Angeles and other spots on the way to his current home in South Africa — leaving a trail of not entirely metaphorical smoldering wreckage.

Animated sequences? Red hair? Not entirely metaphorical smoldering wreckage? Count me in!

In full disclosure, Beware of Mr. Baker will, whenever it gets distributed more widely, be my formal introduction to a figure I’m only just now learning about. Though I own a few Cream albums and have heard “White Room” and “Sunshine Of Your Love” as many times as any living, breathing human should have, I can’t say that I would have been able to tell you a single thing about him before I read that Times review. As it stands now, I can tell you that he was the drummer for Cream, was nicknamed for his hair color, and seems to have racked up a substantial amount of antipathy in his time, despite being, according to some, the greatest rock drummer ever.

The weird thing is that, before reading that review, I had already sketched out a post about a red-haired drummer who I consider to be the greatest I’ve ever seen, but it wasn’t going to be about Ginger Baker. It was going to be about Kevin Walsh.

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Pretty & Nice

Us You All We

When my vinyl habit started gaining steam a few years back, I set a few ground rules that were designed to keep things from spinning out of control, wallet-wise. “Just old stuff” was the first one. I told myself I’d stick to records released in vinyl’s heyday, and I tried for a while, but that notion was doomed from the start. As financially convenient as living in the past — a past I wasn’t even alive to see and hear for myself — would be, it doesn’t make sense. Too many amazing new songs are pressed to vinyl each year, and depriving my turntable of the chance to spin them is just plain cruel. (Nobody puts Pioneer PL-510A in the corner, OK?) Once the floodgates opened, I had to come up with new new-vinyl-buying rules, one of which comes into play when thinking about Pretty & Nice’s new Us You All We EP.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

To all you parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme slingin’ epicureans, hard at work on some delicious stuffing — don’t forget, Alton Brown says to cook it OUTSIDE THE BIRD to avoid having to choose between dry meat and salmonella — I present to you Sérgio Mendes’ scrumptious version of “Scarborough Fair.”

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sérgio Mendes and the Brazil ’66 — “Scarborough Fair” [Spotify/iTunes]

Alexandre Desplat

One of our nation’s most treasured traditions is nearly upon us, and I for one couldn’t be more excited about it.

“It” being Black Friday, of course… what? Did you think I was talking about Thanksgiving? C’mon, Thanksgiving’s just a speed bump on the road to the holiday shopping season! Everybody knows that! What’s really important is lining up in the cold outside your local Walmart with a bunch of strangers at dinner time on Thursday so you can pay a little less for a television that will probably cost half as much in 6 months. That’s the true meaning of Thanksgiving, right?

All sarcasm aside, while Black Friday is almost entirely despicable, it would be 100% despicable if it weren’t for Record Store Day: Black Friday, which aims to divert some of the orgiastic holiday spending from national chains to locally owned music stores. If you’re planning on venturing outside on the most terrifying shopping day of the year, I hope you’ll consider supporting your local record store by stopping in and snagging some of the limited-edition goodies (click here to see the full list of Friday’s special releases).

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White Laces

More than a year and a half ago, I dove headfirst into the White Laces universe by snagging their eponymous EP at Deep Groove Records, and I’ve been exploring the vast, dream-like spaces they create ever since. I wrote then that hearing them for the first time was like “like stepping on a live power line,” and the resulting delirium has yet to wear off, especially because the months since have seen them release new songs, new vinyl, new videos, and a fantastic debut full-length in MOVES. The rich sonic landscape they’ve carved out expanded even further last week, when Stereogum premiered the video for MOVES track “Heavy Nights” — a clip which offers a dark and winding take on the Wonderland trope that will irreversibly alter the degree of comfort you feel when looking at tea and fruit-topped cookies. To celebrate this new addition to the White Laces universe, I caught up with frontman Landis Wine via email about the video’s genesis and the band’s plans for the near future.

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Fiona Apple

As we all know, Common Article 2 of the Geneva Conventions bars businesses from assaulting customers with Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, countless malls and restaurants ignore this directive, opening the door for the year’s most profitable holiday to encroach upon the year’s tastiest. (This encroachment isn’t quite as irksome as Walmart starting their in-store Black Friday sales earlier and earlier on Thursday, which strikes me as pure evil, but it sucks nonetheless.)

So you can rest assured that, to liberally paraphrase one of my favorite songs from Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine album, “This is not about Christmas.” However, this post is about music featured in a movie that’s coming out on Christmas (sorry, once you start adding emphasis with italics, it’s hard to stop).

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Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass

Whipped Cream and Other Delights

Being a dutiful son of two college-teaching Democrats, I skate to one song and one song only on the drive to work each morning: Morning Edition. As much as I love listening to music in the car, NPR has a choke hold on my early-morning airtime. OK, so I change the channel like 2 seconds into the semiannual fund drives. Everyone has a breaking point, alright? Point is that I spend a LOT of time with Steve Inskeep and Renée Montagne, and as far as morning routines go, I’m pretty happy with this one. But now that the election is over, and my at-times-unhealthy appetite for political coverage is sated, I’ve been doing some thinking… is this really the best soundtrack for my ride to work?

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Sounds of RVA

The internet is a funny place.

Well… I suppose it’s not actually a place. It’s a thing. A network. A series of tubes, much like the ones used to transport endorsed checks between you and the bank’s drive through teller. The fascinating thing, though, is that it feels like a place. The virtual spaces we visit so that we can interact with people who share our interests feel just as real as the 7-11s we hit up for coffee on the way to work — even more so in some cases, given that a diligently updated blog can be front-and-center in your consciousness several times a day, if you’re equally diligent about reading it.

Though I’ve never met Sarah Moore Lindsey in person, her words regularly occupy that front-and-center position, thanks to Sounds of RVA.

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