November 15 is just around the corner, and with it comes the launch of our November issue. You know what that means -- it's time for Now Playing. Our November contributors give you a sneak peek into what they've been watching, listening to, and experiencing, and what it might all mean:
As I write this, I'm listening to Haruomi Hosono's 1978 Pacific. I got swept into listening to his work thanks to Youtube algorithms and was immediately hooked. It was his album Paraiso that first got me hooked - a grab bag of wild influences and catchy bounce, with perhaps the best use of clown horns outside of a circus setting. Pacific by contrast is like listening to hold music in an alternative 80s. It's oddly maddening but at the same time I can't stop listening to that smooth poppy synth. Here come the waves of the ocean too, and there's a slight melancholy flavour on the line, as if I'm waiting to report myself in for some kind of crime involving plastic and human frailty.
The Lamp Light Music Festival—a DIY, artist-run event that happens in Grand Rapids each year—just had their seventh successful installment. This was my first time attending, flying out from Seattle at the behest of my Midwestern companions, and wasn’t disappointed. The most memorable performance came from Radiator Hospital, with front man Sam Cook-Parrott near-yodeling his pop-punk tunes to a packed coffee house. I’ve been listening to their heartbreaking hit, “Our Song,” on repeat since.
The last thing I watched was the first episode of “Women of the House.” It’s a 1995 sitcom starring Delta Burke as Suzanne Sugarbaker, a widow who replaces her husband in Congress. The cast is magnificent — Burke, Patricia Heaton, Terri Garr — but most of the jokes range from dated (lots of Janet Reno jabs) to offensive. Still, I enjoy streaming these little-remembered relics of a not-so-distant past if for no other reason than to see how things have, and have not, changed.
I’m a creature of habit. The last thing I listened to was the same album I throw on every morning while settling in to write: WU LYF’s Go Tell Fire to the Mountain. I know it’s going to sound cheesy, but whatever: the album inspires me. The echoing organ and war-drum percussion elicit the same response in me as stepping into some centuries-old cathedral does. A churn of awe and dread that shrinks and centers me. The singer’s got lungs like a broken megaphone. For the most part, the lyrics unintelligible bellows, though every once in a while you’ll catch a flicker of recognizable language, relaying something about wildfires, playing children, Lucifer, eternity, concrete, and, well, yeah. Until I come across another album that makes me want to thump my chest, climb a mountain, or simply spend the next eight hours in my apartment tinkering with words (or my roommate smashes my speakers), then it’ll be WU LYF tomorrow morning, too.