Djeli Moussa Diawara - Fote Mogoban [1983]

It's so easy for me to fall into a hypnotic state to this one, as I just did, coming to only to find a map of Ivory Coast on my screen and a bunch of half-baked ideas for a trip to Africa in my head. Comprised of only a few instruments, Djeli Moussa's Kora along with a balafon, and two guitars, the traditional music still manages to fully encompass you. It's rare to feel as surrounded in light as I do when I listen to this song, and the album on which it appears (sometimes referred to as Yasmika). The constant simmer of the music and voices gives me a sense of propelling up into a sun lit sky, corkscrewing all the way.

Noco Music - Eclipse [1982]

A French saxophone & percussion duo that I'm not truly sure how I stumbled upon, but I very well may have just been looking for records with both vibraphones and saxophones -- that is a thing that I recall doing -- Noco Music tap into a wonderfully breezy sensibility.

I haven't found much info about the group, so I will talk about the song's subject matter, eclipses. Total eclipses are wonderful and you should do whatever you can to see one within the totality zone. I have seen one and it was among the most beautiful and amazing things I've ever witnessed. Everyone else I've talked to who has seen one from the totality seems to feel the same way. In conclusion, you should try to see a total eclipse form within the totality zone.

The Platters - My Prayer [1956]

I love the way doo-wop songs just grab your attention immediately with these incredible intros built to cut through the airwaves of their radio heyday to standout. This one is just another perfect example. To be honest, the song that follows is solid, but that intro ... loop it up and lock me in a listening room.

A note that I, and possibly I alone, find interesting: While the song has been featured in a few soundtracks over the years, its placement in David Lynch's "Twin Peaks: The Return" stands out to me. Partially, because I was obsessed with that show, but also because of in the depths of my research of understanding every facet of each episode, I learned that one of the singers in The Platters was also named David Lynch. In conclusion, David Lynch is weird and so I am and, y'know what, if you're reading this, you are too. Earth: A Big Bunch of Weirdos.

J.K. & Co. - Fly [1968]

Well, this album turned out to have a story. What does J.K. stand for? Well, J.K. stands for Jay Kaye, an, at the time, 15 year old Las Vegas teen from a musical family (his uncle was a famous ukulele player named Johnny Ukulele ... I told you there was a story). After his mother, a world renowned Las Vegas guitarist and singer who is credited with starting the Las Vegas "lounge act" phenomenon, turned down an opportunity to record an album in Vancouver during a stop there, her son jumped at the offer and demoed his songs.

The studio head liked what they heard and so Mary left her 15 year old son there, where, from what I've read, it appears he did a bunch of LSD and put together this one-off album with the help of a teenaged arranger and a studio band called Mother Tuckers Yellow Duck. Then ... yes there's a then ... they took the album to Los Angeles, walked into the offices of White Whale (an independent label best known for The Turtles) who loved what they heard and put it out.

But ... the album, with this psychedelic dirge as it's single, bombed, and J.K. and the band of teenagers he'd put together to promote the album, were all too young to play the clubs, so they got no traction in the scene and went their own ways having blown all the money on the instruments for their band. And that's the story! I think my favorite part is still "Johnny Ukulele".

Bebeto - Princesa Negra De Angola [1977]

It's harder for me to write about a fun song like this. Like, it's just a very fun song to listen to. I do not know what it's about. The little info I've found about Bebeto comes from Google translations of a Portuguese Wikipedia article, and that info, is not particularly interesting. But here's what I will say, this is a very fun song to listen to -- oh, did I already say that? Damn.

Albert & Charles - Weird [1961]

This is apparently the only single Albert and Charles released. From what little info I could find, they seem to have been a pair of homeless twins that the head of the label, Gus Jenkins, overheard playing while stopped at a traffic light and investigated. He pressed 50 copies of the record, and somehow, despite all impracticality, here you are giving it a listen. What a world!

Merle Travis - Dark as a Dungeon [1946]

While it later became a staple of the 1960's folk revival, "Dark as a Dungeon" was not originally a hit on the level of his own "Sixteen Tons", gaining most of it's notoriety for it's inclusion on Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison. But where Cash's version booms with the affection of someone still in the grips of addiction, which makes sense as he was just coming out of a battle with his own drug dependency, Travis sings from the pained perspective of someone on the outside, whose affection is for the people harmed and the dangers they endure. They're both certainly worthwhile, but for where I am, Merle's hits me hardest.

Chuck Senrick - The Duke Is Gone [1976]

From Chuck Senrick's 1976 private press album, Dreamin', I've always thought this song was about Duke Ellington, who had died two years earlier. It's not, which makes more sense -- though on outsider private press albums like this, what makes more sense isn't always what you get. The song is about his dog, which is clear (and heartbreaking) during the fade out when he whistles to it, "here Duke, c'mon boy".

I've always loved homespun records and demos. The intimacy of being in someone's personal space and being granted to the raw, untinkered songs inside. To have all this on a song about feeling alone, backed by a rhythm box beat ... count me in.

Perez Prado - La Octava ReligiĆ³n [1970]

I don't know what you call this. Is this a mambo? Perez Prado is certainly the "King of the Mambo", but it's pretty out there mambo-wise. But then again, who says a mambo can't be out there? Maybe this is Leftfield Mambo -- Haunted Mambo -- Vintage Nu Mambo.

The Larks - Hold Me [1952]

Doo-wop has become one of my favorite genre's to explore. It's like a concentrated from of the most soulful vocal jazz, and was perfectly suited to the technological limits of it's recording era, filling the mono sound spectrum with vibrating harmonies.

This is one of those tracks we're lucky to have, and almost didn't. After sitting in with other members of the later-to-be group a few times, lead singer, Gene Mumford, was arrested for a crime he didn't commit and sent to prison. At the dogged urging of his father, the case was re-examined, and evidence was discovered eliminating him as a suspect. He was pardoned and released after serving two years, picked up with the group, and went on to record several classics.

Faust - Das Meer [1971-3]

Rejected by their label, Virgin, and unreleased until fifteen years after its recording, "Das Meer" is one of the most peaceful tracks the experimental German group, Faust put out. The title translate to "the ocean", and the sounds that follow it fit it to a T, capturing its unique feel of unsettled fluidity. The sea isn't just expansive, it's listless and random. To be on it is to be tossed about without ever landing. You can learn a lot about the world by listening to music.