Category Archives: Tracks

Sufjan Stevens: “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross”

Sufjan Stevens's new album, Carrie and Lowell, releases March 31.

Sufjan Stevens’s new album, Carrie and Lowell, releases March 31.

A song as painful as it is beautiful, “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross” finds the artist best known for portraits of other places and people turning his lens inward on his own grief following his mother’s death. For longtime Sufjan Stevens fans hearing the 39-year-old Michigan-born storyteller whisper-sing the words “Fuck me, I’m falling apart”, as he describes trying and failing to use vice to fill his void, will damn near rip your heart out. No one is spared grief in this life but few capture it in song in as haunting a manner as Stevens does here with just his shaky voice, finger-picked acoustic guitar and window a/c unit.

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My Grammys Crystal Ball Is Cracked

Queen Bey, the Album of the Year winner?

Queen Bey, the Album of the Year winner?

Beyonce will win four Grammys Sunday night. Book it. If she doesn’t Brit old/new soul Sam Smith will win four. Again, book it. Or Taylor Swift will win three. Maybe don’t book it. Ya know, maybe they will split the awards among themselves or someone else like Iggy Azalea, Ed Sheeran, or Meghan Trainor. Yeah, that could happen. All I know is Grammys will be awarded.

On Friday I made Grammy predictions on Mixology‘s web site. One day later, my Grammys crystal ball is cracked. I dropped it on the slick NYC pavement. Beyonce, Sam Smith, and Taylor Swift each sold millions of records that launched inescapable singles. Beyonce and Sam Smith are performing at the Grammys. It would seem a two-horse race. Except, in every category, it’s a five-horse race so I am back to square one.

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Leon Bridges – “Coming Home”

Even Leon Bridges's photos look cut from another era.

Even Leon Bridges’s photos look cut from another era.

It’s 20 days into 2015, winter is taking glee in slapping my fragile ginger ass around, and I have discovered my favorite song of the year. *Whispers* It’s a song released in 2014 (albeit on Soundcloud).

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The Districts – “4th and Roebling”

TheDistricts

New Year’s resolutions don’t interest me much. They speak to artificial, short-term change, and reek of herd mentality. The emotional guts of “4th and Roebling”, the first single from Lancaster, Penn. rock quartet The Districts’ new record, center around change, and I guess in that way it reminds me of New Year’s. Not in a dismissive way though.

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Cajun Tomato’s Favorite Songs 2014 Edition

Angel Olsen, 2014's unlikeliest self-help guru.

Angel Olsen, 2014’s unlikeliest self-help guru.

Mike Brown. Eric Garner. The Senate torture report. Ebola.

The world is going up in flames, as Charles Bradley presciently sang in 2011.

The songs below represent the sounds and words that captivated me in 2014, a year filled with strife, injustice, and fear in America. Not to mention the year I turned 30, a year of internal strife and restlessness spent charting and reconciling my life’s course, and a year in which I chopped the term guilty pleasure, as it pertained to music, from my vocabulary.

Welcome to Cajun Tomato’s Favorite Songs 2014 Edition! All songs were released in 2014 in some degree either on an album, single, music video, or figment of my imagination. At the bottom of the list you can listen to my Favorite Songs 2014 Spotify playlist. Songs not featured on Spotify include a link to SoundCloud. Enjoy!

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Favorite Songs of 2014 (Halftime Edition)

Hamilton Leithauser performs during The Walkmen's set at One Eyed Jacks on Sept. 30, 2009. Photo credit: Cajun Tomato.

Hamilton Leithauser performs during The Walkmen’s set at One Eyed Jacks on Sept. 30, 2009. Photo credit: Cajun Tomato.

It’s the first day of August, and 2014 is either moving like molasses or like a rapid. I am having trouble deciding. I just awoke from my World Cup coma, and found myself disturbingly close to 30 – the year when my red hairs on my chin are contractually obligated to turn white. Alas, 2014 has yet to produce many visible white hairs. It also hasn’t produced an album that hammered me over the head with its greatness.

Individual songs are a different animal. I’ve loved and fallen out of love and then loved some more so many songs this year that it only seemed right that I choose 25 for this list. This list is a snapshot of how I felt about songs during the year’s first half. I expect my top 25 (or top 50) songs will look (somewhat) different at year’s end. It’s worth noting this list features songs that were released in 2014 as singles or on albums this year. If they were released in 2013 on an album then released in 2014 as a single I included them. I also limited myself to one song per artist.

Here’s to 30 and all the jams that will come! Rock, dance, croon on! Favorite Songs of 2014 (Halftime Edition) commence!

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Favorite Songs Of 2014, Way Too Early Edition

Hamilton Leithauser performs during The Walkmen's set at One Eyed Jacks on Sept. 30, 2009. Photo credit: Cajun Tomato.

Hamilton Leithauser performs during The Walkmen’s set at One Eyed Jacks on Sept. 30, 2009. Photo credit: Cajun Tomato.

Some days New York City makes me miss having a car. Not because I miss driving – god knows cabbies make my nerves bad – but because I miss singing, err shouting, in the car with my favorite music. I can’t, in good conscience, do the singing/shouting thing on the subway. I’ve noticed more and more people doing that – mostly aspiring rappers – as the city thaws from a brutal winter. If I tried to rap on the subway people would best-case scenario hand me change to stop. Either that or attempt to physically escort me out at the next stop.

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Favorite Songs Of 2013

Kinda like 2013 in Spanish Harlem!!!

While sipping a mocha on this bitterly cold New York City afternoon I decided to list my favorite songs of 2013. I started a numerical list, only to abandon it. Instead I handed out the type of arbitrary awards bestowed upon middle/high school kids. My middle school picked me most likely to succeed. Little did they know my idea of success on this second Thursday in December 2013 would be writing this list. Guess I got the last laugh.

Here’s to expectations! And lists! And 2013!

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Favorite Song Of 2013 Finalists

Radiation City

As I review my favorite songs of 2013 finalists I am unsure how or why pop music, more so than any other genre, came to dominate my eardrums. I avoided televised singing competitions and only listened to radio while on vacation. I did read a tabloid or two about Simon Cowell knocking up his best mate’s wife. Who didn’t though? Oh, and I saw Mariah Carey perform live. Maybe her glittery sling cast a diva spell on my ears as well as my eyes.

When I speak of pop I am not necessarily referring to Top 40 although I played the hell out of Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, and Lorde this year. I mean, more specifically, songs that in an alternate universe not run by Clear Channel could appear on the radio. The heart, swagger, and/or dash of Stevie Nicks these songs possess would make them welcome additions on the FM dial.

In creating this post I took inspiration from the Academy Awards Best Picture Category, which contains 10 nominees. Why pick five songs when you can pick 10, right? I’ll post my year-end favorite songs list in a few weeks. Here, in the meantime, are my Favorite Song of 2013 finalists, in alphabetical order of the artist. Also: Check out the playlist at the bottom of the text. Enjoy!

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Track Review: “Mercy” by TV On The Radio

TV On The Radio - "Mercy"

The evening I first experienced “Mercy” its driving beat, howling chorus, and cinematic quality compelled me to dance as if it were a TV On The Radio live standard I had enjoyed many times over. The vibe just clicked. Immediately.

Since the Brooklyn art-rockers released the studio version of “Mercy” this week I’ve played it on repeat some two dozen times. Its eerie immediacy and compact, layered storytelling and soundscapes are just as striking today as when I saw the band play Crossing Brooklyn Ferry at the Brooklyn Museum of Arts this April.

It’s tempting to call this a comeback or return to form since the band has been silent for the most part since releasing Nine Types of Light in 2011. More than anything, “Mercy” is a reminder of how great TV On The Radio is when it dials the tempo up, something the band largely eschewed on its most recent album.

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