David Byrne Radio, June 2016: “Current Events”

If you’re like me, you love David Byrne, the former Talking Heads frontman now solo artist, author, musicologist and prophet of culture and the arts. For years, I used to enjoy David Byrne Radio, which was a monthly updated playlist of fabulous music curated by David himself. It was available for streaming on his own website and through iTunes, where I kept it in a playlist of favorites. Then it disappeared.

Byrne relocated David Byrne Radio to Mixcloud, where I rediscovered it a few months ago. The new format with Mixcloud is MUCH better (a lot like Soundcloud, where I host my podcast), enabling us to enjoy and share past playlists at home or on-the-go with a mobile device.

What I’ve always appreciated about his playlists is his nondiscriminatory appreciation and inclusion of all kinds of music, from the very esoteric to the very popular. A recent playlist I really loved was a 90-minute set of Middle Eastern disco funk. Who knew there was such a thing? I didn’t. But leave it to the experience, knowledge and sensitivity of DB himself to bring it forth for us to hear. Conversely, he’s not above including the occasional Beyoncé or Britney track, if it’s a good one he really likes.

He titled his June 2016 list “Current Events.” Here is the note he wrote to introduce it:

Some of this is mainstream—Drake and Beyonce are top of the charts, whatever that means now—but quality-wise it’s nice that there isn’t a big discontinuity between them and some new or less-well-known artists like Jack Garratt, Mop Mop, Emily Wells, and Christine and the Queens. A lot of these artists, well known or not, are pushing the boundaries of the genres that might confine them. Chance the Rapper’s record verges into pretty straight up gospel sometimes. Anohni (formerly Antony) delivers an issue-saturated dance album and Radiohead has some gorgeous piano ballads on their new record.

It may be tough time for musicians financially, but it doesn’t seem to have dampened their adventurous spirits. In tough times one might expect artists to play it safe—hew to the pop formulas and get by as best they can. But everyone here is taking chances; it’s heartening.

NYC June 2016

And I love that he still uses the word “records.”

Enjoy June 2016: Current Events

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