Kevin Warwick, Reader associate editor
The Counts, Funk Pump This 1974 funk record sits right in the sweet spot of the decade, when a band could be cosmic enough to levitate but not shoot off into outer space with George Clinton and company—and prior to the late-70s disco deluge, when every album had at minimum two tracks of glitzy symphonic decadence. The Counts relocated from Detroit to Atlanta (and Aware Records) after hometown label Westbound, which released their debut, went all-in on Funkadelic and the Ohio Players. Funk Pump‘s deepest cut: “Magic Ride.”
Andy Summers & Robert Fripp, “What Kind of Man Reads Playboy?” This tornado of slap bass, improvised saxophone, hectic drum-machine rhythms, and super guitar solos is the centerpiece of 1984’s Bewitched, the second of two collaborative albums by the Police’s Andy Summers and King Crimson’s Robert Fripp. Often disjointed thanks to a jagged riff that pushes against its organic flow, the 11-minute track seems to reboot four different times—and it’s one of the best from Fripp’s ridiculous number of 80s and 90s collaborations.
Sheer Mag Everyone’s on board with Philly’s Sheer Mag by now, right? The band is less of a well-kept secret thanks in part to their excellent new II, an EP of lick-heavy, lo-fi classic rock for the modern DIY basement dweller. It trades off catchy hand-clap moments with blown-out guitar riffs that sound like they should be played with one foot up on a monitor wedge.
Kevin is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Miranda Winters, Melkbelly guitarist and vocalist
Sparks, Kimono My House Even when it’s 362 days away, I like to think about who my band will be for Halloween, and lately the answer has been Sparks. Right now I’m in love with their third album, 1974’s Kimono My House, because Russell Mael has a lyrical cadence to die for. Getting tongue-tied along with this complex pop record is one of the more satisfying parts of my day.
Kim Gordon, Girl in a Band Women who make unconventional music are often assumed to approach it with similar intentions, so as a “girl in a band” I was apprehensive about being seen with this book. I really dislike confirming any stereotype. A friend saw Gordon speak in LA and bought me a signed copy of Girl in a Band. I’m pleased to report that it discusses the feminine gaze in a way that’s relevant to any performer and creates a meaty time line for folks interested in noise, no wave, and punk.
Kate Bush, “Suspended in Gaffa” Sometimes I’ll sit around reading Kate Bush lyrics, and I’m always psyched that the moods of her melodies are informed by the subjects of the songs they’re in. We’re all familiar with the pure gold of “Wuthering Heights,” but “Suspended in Gaffa” (from Bush’s third album, 1982’s The Dreaming) hits just as hard. Its creepy religiosity intrigues me almost as much as the choice to shorten “gaffer tape” to “gaffa,” and I could listen to it on repeat forever. Kate Bush has informed my work in a major way, and The Dreaming is a default setting for me.
Miranda is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Philip Lesicko, half of the Funs, founder of Manic Static Records
The Whines This Portland band is sadly no longer together. I’ve been listening to them often for years, and I’m sure I will be listening to them forever. They’ve got everything I love: intense guitar and drums, pretty melodies with just enough scuzz, and good lyrics, which is important to me. I had a chance to see them in Chicago around 2011 in a hot sweaty summer basement, and it was everything I could’ve hoped for.
William Keihn As a visual artist, I get incredibly excited by other artists who produce unique experiences through visuals and layering. Southern California-based William Keihn has done a lot of work for bands, but I’m most fascinated by his Hate Expo series—taking ordinary show info and flipping it to create a dialogue that I feel is necessary in the frustrating “music and art” world. Humor and irony in art is crucial.
Sic Alps These Bay Area musicians will always be my favorite band. In 2008 a friend played me Sic Alps when I was living in the suburbs of Saint Louis and working as a janitor at a big-box hardware store. I drove a 1983 Chevy van with bloody teeth spray-painted on the front. It had a cassette deck that I used to blast a Sic Alps mixtape I’d made through crackly, barely functional speakers. Being a janitor and a weirdo in a conservative, wealthy Missouri suburb was a struggle. But every day I’d clock out and look forward to cranking “Semi Streets” and rumbling up and down the hills, surrounded by megachurches and mansions.