Grant-Lee Phillips: Past & Present

For almost 30 years, Grant-Lee Phillips has shared his deep, burnished tenor voice through a slew musical constellations.

After moving from Stockton to Los Angeles for film school, the California native got his start in the critically-acclaimed but largely forgotten band Shiva Burlesque, which, after two albums, would evolve into Grant Lee Buffalo.

Despite rave reviews, overseas buzz and successful tours with R.E.M, Pearl Jam, the Smashing Pumpkins and others, Grant Lee Buffalo never translated into moving large units of CDs, and in 1999 they called it quits. In the wake lays a row of classic albums   Fuzzy (1993), Mighty Joe Moon (1994), Copperpolis (1996) and Jubilee (1998) – all using a different approach to their signature sound of rootsy instrumentation, epic songwriting and electrified Americana.

After the breakup of Grant Lee Buffalo, Phillips set out for a journey on his own, spending the noughties nurturing a solo career under his own name. This includes such album highlights as 2001’s Mobilize (praised by All Music as ‘comparable to the finest moments of U2, David Gray, R.E.M., and Radiohead’), the stellar 2006 covers album Nineteeneighties and the poignant Walking in the Green Corn (2012) where Phillips translated his ancestral legacy into the present era.

Since then, Grant-Lee Phillips has left California and settled with his family in the rolling hills of Tennessee, and a quieter life resembling both the San Joaquin Valley of his upbringing and his parents’ mid-southern roots.

This is the backdrop to his latest dispatch on Yep Roc Records. Entitled The Narrows, the album is a concentrated nexus of romance, recollection, historic struggles and tragedies, and peerless craftsmanship – coupled with the hopes, fears, and isolation that accompany transition, according to the label.

Grant gathered a trio of musicians, including drummer Jerry Roe – grandson of eccentric guitar virtuoso and songwriter Jerry Reed and multi-instrumentalist Lex Price, settled in Dan Auerbach’s (of the Black Keys) Easy Eye Studio, which also gave them access to his collection of museum-quality vintage equipment. The Narrows deals with the tension between past and present, foundations and freedom, also captivating the southern spirit and energy along with Phillips’ journey into marriage and fatherhood, and the passing of his own father.

‘Discovery is what I love the most about songwriting,’ Phillips shares. ‘When it comes to albums, I tend to let the through-line reveal itself as I gather a collection of songs. Recurring themes tend to arise organically, and I enjoy encountering them like fresh webs in the morning.’

Grant-Lee Phillips shared five albums that changed his life in some shape or form.

*   *   *

Van Morrison: Astral Weeks

I must have discovered this album some twenty years after its debut in 1968. There’s really nothing else like it, nothing since. To steal a line from the title song, it’s an album that never fails to transport to “Another time, another place.” One can’t help but be swept up in the spiraling energy of “Sweet Thing,” “Cypress Avenue” or “Madam George.” Dizzying, breathtaking, Astral Weeks is a work that transforms itself and it’s listener with every spin. I regard it as an oracle.

Strangely, I always feel as though I’m hearing it for the very first time. There’s something in the gestural brush strokes, the details, the blazing intensity of both the lyric and Van Morrison’ s seemingly possessed vocal performance that transcends rational bounds. One song invisibly bleeds into the next. Undulating, breathing, ever rotating with the symmetry of a mandala. Perhaps the most spiritual collection of songs ever captured on record.

Featured Track: “Sweet Thing”

Gillian Welch: Time (The Revelator)   

I had the good fortune of first hearing Gillian Welch and David Rawlings around 2000 or 2001, when they stepped onstage by chance one night at the Largo in L.A., back when it was on Fairfax, across from Canters Deli. David and I spoke upstairs about this old guitar he was playing. He was pointing out that it had no truss-rod, as though this could in some way explain the electricity flowing through his fingers. Gillian too couldn’t have been more unassuming. Together onstage, they possessed a divining rod, tapping into a source as potent as it was ancient.

Floored by this set of original songs, along with a Buddy Holly cover or two, I went out the next morning and hunted down the album, Time (The Revelator) by Gillian WelchThere isn’t a word or a note out of place on these ten songs. Every song feels as though it has been slow cooked and simmered to perfection. Effortless, truthful, even prescient. No other song hits the nail on the head like “Everything Is Free.” If ever there was a Cassandra for the music business, Welch would be it… for this song alone.

Featured Track: “Revelator”

Elliot Smith: Elliot Smith

Around ’97 or so my friend Jon Brion went out and bought about 15 copies of a quiet-voiced singer and gifted guitarist named Elliot Smith. Jon, whose talents have earned him wide admiration as a producer and composer, was on a mission to spread the word about an artist who he himself had just encountered and was beginning to work with. “You have got to hear this!” Jon said. The album was simply called Elliot Smith. It would be followed by the albums Either/Or, XO and Figure 8 before Smith’s death at the terribly young age of 34.

At a time of musical grandiosity, Elliot had emerged with a very contrasting vision. His originality, almost whispered rage and isolation spoke to a generation with the kind of honesty and sophistication not heard since Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band. The album Elliot Smith coincided with my casual friendship with Elliot. He, Jon and I shared many an off-the-cuff night on stage at Largo, colliding like bumper cars as we worked our way through old cover songs, even tackling the Bowie/Queen duet “Under Pressure” one night – none of us with a straight face. I remember those laughs well, just as I recall the impact of encountering Elliot Smith’s artistry for the very first time.

Featured Track: “Needle In The Hay”

David Bowie: Hunky Dory

David Bowie’s Hunky Dory stands out in his staggering catalogue. Like Picasso, who is associated with so many distinct periods of output, it’s criminal to settle on one favorite Bowie album. But this list wouldn’t be very honest if his impact wasn’t rightfully acknowledged in some degree. Low was the first Bowie LP I bought but Hunky Dory is one that I go back to the most frequently.

Bowie’s love of Dylan, The Velvets, The Stones, Andy Warhol culminate in an album that is majestic at times and primitive at others. I’ve heard that Hunky Dory is an assemblage of various songs that were not originally conceived as a whole. Bowie often employed lyrical experimentation, such as the cut-up writing methods of Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs. Hunky Dory functions as kind of a cut-up. The effect of all of these songs juxtaposed together increases their magnitude, making for a very singular album.

Featured Track: “Life On Mars”

The Band: The Band (The Brown Album)

The seeds that were planted long ago, when The Band recorded songs like “Up on Cripple Creek,” “Rag Mama Rag,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “Whispering Pines” are still yielding a bountiful harvest. That mythic and pastoral landscape continues to draw new pilgrims. I’ve been tracking those footsteps as long as I can recall.

The Band is one of my major influences. So whether we call it Alt-country, Americana or whatever, we have Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson to thank for there being a road to begin with. They were here first. Blessed with some of the most expressive voices and musical virtuosity the ages have known, The Band were galvanized around songs that seemed to have existed forever and were built to last forever. Sung with the pain and joy of life’s experience, the unvarnished and divine music of The Band is a treasure to share.

Featured Track: “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”

Originally published on read.tidal, May 2016
Bjørn Hammershaug

Year of the Monkey: Årets Låter 2016


Musikkåret 2016 har vært preget av utrolig mange sterke album, ambisiøse verk som fortjener å oppleves i sin helhet og i tiltenkt sammenheng. Min liste over de 100 presumptivt beste ligger her, men for å oppsummere året litt mer lyttervennlig må jeg selvsagt også rangere 100 av de beste enkeltlåtene – eller i hvert fall de jeg har hørt mye på gjennom 2016. Det har vært en overskuddsoppgave, med god plass for flere. Har avgrenset til én låt pr. artist.

Toppen speiles av artister som nettopp har utgitt noen av årets sterkeste album; Cohen, Bowie, Solange, Woods og Kevin Morby – men helt øverst fant jeg plass for den kanskje aller sterkeste musikalske og visuelle opplevelsen fra 2016, med en artist som utvider begrepet om hvordan musikk kan lages og framføres. Enjoy.

Hele lista hører du i TIDAL


Witchcraft: An Exorcism of Doubts
Signe Marie Rustad: The Space Song
William Bell: Poison in the Well
Mudcrutch: Trailer
Billy Bragg & Joe Henry: The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore
Big Ups: National Parks
Colin John: Gylden
Honduras Hollywood
Aaron Lee Tasjan: Little Movies
King Creosote: You Just Want

Nicolas Jaar: Killing Time
Side Brok: Pump Pump
Karl Blau: Fallin’ Rain
deLillos: Graham Nash
Surfer Blood: Six Flags in F or G
William Tyler: Kingdom of Jones
Kristoffer Lo: Front Row Gallows View
Heron Oblivion: Beneath Fields
Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation: In Madrid/Rainbow Lollipop
Deakin: Golden Chords

Residual Kid: Salsa
Jeremy & the Harlequins: Into the Night
Sir the Baptist feat. Killer Mike and ChuchPeople: Raising Hell
Michael Kiwanuka: Cold Little Heart
Danny Brown: Really Doe (feat. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul & Earl Sweatshirt)
Moor Mother: Deadbeat Protest
Parquet Courts: Human Performance
Mystery Jets: Midnight’s Mirror
Hilde Selvikvåg: Indie
Hjerteslag: Sang til Sonja

Ryley Walker: The Roundabout
Lucy Dacus: I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore
Christian Kjellvander: Dark Ain’t That Dark
Stein Torleif Bjella: Oppfølgingsprat
Lambchop: The Hustle
Max Jury: Numb
Motorpsycho: Lacuna/Sunrise
Childish Gambino: Me and Your Mama
YG feat. Nipsey Hussle: FDT
Mick Jenkins feat. Badbadnotgood: Drowning

Dirty Projectors: Keep Your Name
Doug Tuttle: It Calls On Me
case/lang/veirs: Atomic Number
St. Paul & the Broken Bones: Flow With It (You Got Me Feeling Like)
Foxygen: Follow the Leader
Mitski: Your Best American Girl
Angel Olsen: Shut Up Kiss Me
Mystery Lights: Follow Me Home
Mikey Erg: Comme Si About Me
The Sadies feat. Kurt Vile: It’s Easy (Walking Like That)

Steve Gunn: Park Bench Smile
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Rattlesnake
Badbadnotgood feat. Samuel T. Herring: Time Moves Slow
The Jayhawks: Lovers of the Sun
Agnes Obel: Familiar
Noname feat. Akenya & Eryn Allen Kane: Reality Check
Frøkedal: The Sign
ANOHNI: Drone Bomb Me
Vic Mensa: There’s Alot Going On
Amanda Shires: Harmless

Black Mountain: Space to Bakersfield
Posse: Voices
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Jesus Alone
Rihanna: Work
Kendrick Lamar: untitled 02 | 06.23.2014
Marissa Nadler: All the Colors of the Dark
Sturgill Simpson: Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)
Radiohead: Burn the Witch
Car Seat Headrest: Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales
DJ Shadow feat. Run the Jewels: Nobody Speak

Jenny Hval: Female Vampire
Desiigner: Panda
Cherry Glazerr: Told You I’d Be With the Guys
Hiss Golden Messenger: Tell Her I’m Just Dancing
Okkervil River: Okkervil River R.I.P
Pinegrove: Old Friends
Robert Ellis: California
Weyes Blood: Do You Need My Love
The Frightnrs: Nothing More to Say
Valerie June: Astral Plane

Anderson .Paak: Come Down
Maggie Rogers: Alaska
Chris Staples: Relatively Permanent
Night Moves: Carl Sagan
Ray LaMontagne: Part Two – In My Own Way
Nothing: The Dead Are Dumb
Cass McCombs: Low Flyin’ Bird
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein: Stranger Things
Beyoncé feat. Kendrick Lamar: Freedom
Kanye West: Ultralight Beam

Cranes in the Sky

Leonard Cohen:
You Want it Darker

The Olympians:
Sirens of Jupiter

Drive-By Truckers:
Surrender Under Protest

A Tribe Called Quest:
We the People…

Kevin Morby:
I Have Been to the Mountain

David Bowie:

No Woman

Sun City Creeps

Gaelynn Lea:
Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun

Årets Beste Album & Reutgivelser 2016

arets_album_1200Å rangere årets favorittalbum er en øvelse som raskt minner om et par ting, både mengden kvalitetsplater som utgis hvert år og den skrekkelig lille tiden man egentlig har til rådighet til virkelig å grave seg ned i materien. Og det sier jeg, som sitter å lytter til og vurderer musikk hver dag som en del av jobben. Denne kåringen av årets høydepunkt fungerer dermed også som en rolodex over titler som fortjener mer fokus, og som jeg har ambisjoner om å høre enda mer på (for det kommer sikkert ikke noen bra plater i 2017 som vil stjele den tiden…)

Uansett. 2016 har vært et helt fabelaktig albumår, i en tid der mange hevder dette formatets endelikt. Au contraire, albumformatet har gjenvunnet en status, ikke minst innen såkalt urban musikk som preges av en etterlengtet politisk slagside vi ikke har sett maken til siden slutten av 60-årene, med profilerte navn som Beyoncé, Kanye West og Solange som fremste talerør. Artister som Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar og Anderson .Paak driver også den musikalske utviklingen framover i stadig nye retninger og gjennom nye mutasjoner, som bidrar til å hviske ut gamle skillelinjer.

For et annet kjennetegn ved denne oppsummeringen er sammenblandingen av mainstream artister og undergrunnen. Det har gjerne vært tette skott mellom disse grupperingene, slik vi ofte har sett to ulike verdener på salgslistene kontra kritikertoppen. Så er det ikke i år, hvor vi positivt nok har sett at veven mellom topp og kred bare har blitt enda tettere.

Likevel står ikke 2016 igjen for meg med den ene soleklare favoritten, faktisk ble jeg overrasket selv over hva som til slutt endte på Topp 10. Det ble en merkelig smørje dette, som gjenspeiler vår tidsånd, i hvert fall for de av oss med relativt åpent sinn, som har tilgang på alt hele tiden. Ikke overraskende preges lista av mye indierock og folk/Americana, men også mer pop og hip hop enn vanlig, samt en variert miks av world, jazz, electronica – og en ikke uvesentlig andel ‘godt voksne’ artister (noen langt oppe i 80-årene, som Shirley Collins og Leonard Cohen) og ringrever (David Bowie, Radiohead og Teenage Fanclub leverte alle opp mot sitt beste i 2016). For Bowie og Cohens del, betød det også at de gikk ut av tiden med den stilen de fortjente.

Tiden er for knapp, frekvensen for høy og den endeløse tilgangen for stor til at vi trenger å bry oss med det som er halvbra. Ingen på denne listen – som lett kunne vært dobbelt så lang – kvalifiserer til en slik betegnelse. Dette er i hvert fall 100 av de beste og mest hørte platene som har blitt utgitt i år. Sett fra tampen av 2016.


Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band: The Rarity of Experience
Subrosa: For This We Fought the Battle of Ages
King Creosote: Astronaut Meets Appleman
Idris Ackamoor & the Pyramids: We Be All Africans
Luísa Maita: Fio da Memória
Hasse Farmen: Livet du redder kan være ditt eget
Teenage Fanclub: Here
Vanishing Life: Surveillance
Moor Mother: Fetish Gambles
Kristoffer Lo: The Black Meat


nonkeen: The Gamble
Deakin: Sleep Cycle
Elza Soares: A Mulher Do Fim Do Mundo
Black Mountain: IV
Anders Røine: Kristine Valdresdatter
Western Skies Motel: Settlers
Maria Usbeck: Amparo
Weyes Blood: Front Row Seat to Earth
Howe Gelb: Future Standards
Heron Oblivion: s/t


Jeff Parker: The New Breed
Karl Blau: Introducing Karl Blau
Goat: Requiem
Ryley Walker: Golden Sings That Have Been Sung
Noura Mint Seymali: Arbina
Skepta: Konnichiwa
Lucy Dacus: No Burden
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein: Stranger Things
Parquet Courts: Human Performance
Blood Orange: Freetown Sound


King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Nonagon Infinity
Tim Hecker: Love Streams
Kedr Livanskiy: January Sun
Chris Staples: Golden Age
Jherek Bischoff: Cistern
Gojira: Magma
Margaret Glaspy: Emotions and Math
NxWorries: Yes Lawd!
Huerco S: For Those Of You Who Have Never (and Also Those Who Have)
Jóhann Jóhannsson:Orphée


Babyfather: ‘BBF’ Hosted by DJ Escrow
Leyla McCalla: A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey
Ka: Honor Killed the Samurai
Shabaka & the Ancestors: Wisdom of Elders
Margo Price: Midwest Farmer’s Daughter
Richmond Fontaine: You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing to Go Back To
Daniel Bachman: s/t
Ólafur Arnalds: Island Songs
Erlend Apneseth Trio: Det andre rommet


Max Jury: s/t
Aaron Lee Tasjan: Silver Tears
Geir Sundstøl: Langen ro
PUP: The Dream is Over
The Mystery Lights: s/t
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: EARS
Bon Iver: 22, a Million
Pinegrove: Cardinal
Årabrot: The Gospel
Angel Olsen: My Woman


Terrace Martin: Velvet Portraits
The Olympians: s/t
Noname: Telefone
Rihanna: Anti
Anohni: Hopelessness
Nothing: Tired of Tomorrow
Stein Torleif Bjella: Gode Liv
Marissa Nadler: Strangers
Ray LaMontagne: Ouroboros
Shirley Collins: Lodestar


Hiss Golden Messenger: Heart Like a Levee
James Blake: The Colour In Anything
Floating Points: Kuiper
Whitney: Light Upon the Lake
Agnes Obel: Citizen of Glass
Lambchop: Flotus
Steve Gunn: Eyes on the Lines
Car Seat Headrest: Teens of Denial
Nicolas Jaar: Sirens
Childish Gambino: “Awaken, My Love!”


Jeff Rosenstock: Worry.
Ian William Craig: Centres
Sturgill Simpson: A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Kanye West: The Life of Pablo
Drive-By Truckers: American Band
William Tyler: Modern Country
Jenny Hval: Blood Bitch
Leonard Cohen: You Want it Darker
Kendrick Lamar: untitled unmastered.
Solange: A Seat at the Table



Michael Kiwanuka: Love & Hate


Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree
(Bad Seed)


Anderson .Paak: Malibu


Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool


Cass McCombs: Mangy Love


A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service


Kevin Morby: Singing Saw
(Dead Oceans)


David Bowie: Blackstar (★)


Beyoncé: Lemonade


Woods: City Sun Eater in the River of Light

≈≈≈Bubbling Below≈≈≈
Amanda Shires: My Piece of Land//Big Ups: Before a Million Universes//Brandy Clark: Big Day in a Small Town//case/lang/veirs: s/t//Chance the Rapper: Coloring Book//Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas: Mariner//Darling West: Vinyl and a Heartache//Dinosaur Jr.: Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not//Frank Ocean: Blonde//Frankie Cosmos: Next Thing//Jim James: Eternally Even//Julianna Barwick: I Will//Kaytranada: 99.9%//Lionlimb: Shoo//Lydia Loveless: Real//Maren Morris: Hero//Miranda Lambert: The Weight of These Wings//Mattis Kleppen & Resjemheia: El Bokko//Mitski: Puberty 2
Mystery Jets: Curve of the Earth//Nails: You Will Never Be One Of Us//Oathbreaker: Rheia//Okkervil River: Away//Oranssi Pazuzu: Värähtelijä//Robbie Fulks: Upland Stories//Savages: Adore Life//Signe Marie Rustad: Hearing Colors Seeing Noises//Swans: The Glowing Man//S U R V I V E: RR7349//Tony Molina: Confront the Truth//Touché Amoré: Stage Four//Twin Peaks: Down in Heaven//

Retroåret 2016 – 10 Utvalgte Favoritter:


Various: Wayfaring Strangers: Cosmic American Music

tad_godsballs TAD: God’s Balls/Salt Lick/8-Way Santa

sunra_600 Sun Ra: Singles

jack_rose_600 Jack Rose: Jack Rose/I Do Play Rock and Roll/Dr. Ragtime and His Pals
(Three Lobed)

scientists_600 Scientists: A Place Called Bad


Various: Chaos in the City of Angels and Devils – Punk in Los Angeles 1977-81
(Soul Jazz)


Various: Doing It in Lagos: Boogie, Pop & Disco in 1980s Nigeria


Terry Allen: Juarez
(Paradise of Bachelors)


Various: Aloha Got Soul – Soul, AOR and Disco in Hawai’i 1979-1985


White Zombie: It Came From N.Y.C.


The Rave-Ups :Town + Country