Despite living in the Southeast for the better part of twenty three years, I'd never visited Nashville until this past weekend. Unfortunately the visit was a bit of a whirlwind - lasting less than 24 hours. Regardless, it was well worth the drive to check out a new city and spend time with some old friends. Because I'm a travel dork and fan of planning, I had a little list of things I wanted to see. Grimey's was a must, I'd heard good things about the Hatch Show Print, and many a friend mentioned BookMan BookWoman's greatness. These are all things I'd highly recommend for your visit. So make a note, if that's your thing.
Now's the part when I get to share some photos and give you a listening itinerary. Unlike the one I put together for Chicago, this one features a mix of records (not all necessarily from 2014). These albums have entered the ranks of my all-time favorites. If you happen to be looking for new-old-record recommendations and pairings around Nashville, then you've come to the right place.
There's something about overcast skies that compels you to listen to Tom Waits. Maybe it's the melancholy mood he casts or perhaps his sardonic grit just finds itself at home in the rain. Bone Machine gives you the full Waits cast - meaning you get carnival Waits, serious Waits, down-right-grim Waits. I'd recommend giving this one a listen while walking around downtown Nashville. Between the slight circus of Broadway and the famed honky-tonks, the exposed brick buildings against the shiny new skyscrapers, and metallic bridge over the river it's a natural fit for Waits. Hell he'd probably stumble out of one of the aforementioned honky-tonks and try to convince you his great-grandfather owned the old factory that used to be in that warehouse that's now a hip restaurant. But what makes this album so great (in my opinion) is the light that peeks through at the end. From "Whistle Down The Wind" onward the tracks are raw, honest, and beautiful in a way totally unique to Waits. It might still be raining, but the sun's starting to come through the clouds.
This first time I finished listening to this record I immediately started it over. Catchy, thoughtful, fuzzed-out pop songs that were totally mesmerizing? Hooked doesn't begin to cover it. YLT has a knack for knowing when to play to the quieter moments and when to let the floodgates open - Painful showcases that in the best way. Once the sun's poked its head out for the day, put it on. It'll keep you company in your post-brunch haze while you make your way across town. I'd recommend checking out the strip by BookMan BookWoman. It's in East Nashville (near Belmont/Vanderbilt) - where you can grab some Jeni's ice cream from Hot & Cold and soak up some sun.
There's no doubt in my mind that this album was made for the golden hour - be it early in the morning or late at night. Personally, I like to picture it as the soundtrack to one of Bryan Ferry's dreams. It's softer and less chaotic than their previous efforts, but I love it. The skeletal saxophone and guitar lines weave in and around Ferry's synth landscapes allowing us to float alongside. This is what you put on as the lights dim and you move out to the patio for dinner. The twinkle lights and wooded beer garden of Pharmacy is an ideal spot to grab said bite.
This is the only record in this post from 2014 - which I feel the need to state, since it shows how much it's had an impact on me in such a short span of time. Craig is a formally trained opera singer who specializes in grainy, looped melancholia. It's devastating ambient drone wherein loops last long enough to witness their echoes spread like rings in their wake. Simple sounds are wrangled, distorted only to be fed back through in a new fashion. You hate to leave your latest adventure behind, but listening to this on the way home will fuel your new, fresh perspective on things. Trust me, it sticks with you.