Pop Your Culture (Volume 1)

Welcome to POP YOUR CULTURE, a monthly (aka infrequent) series where I ask artistic friends to tell me what culture they’re crushing on at the moment.

(musician, bass player for Allison Weiss and numerous LA bands)

Liam is a dear friend, amazing musician, and kind soul who hails from Boston, but now lives in Los Angeles after years in Brooklyn. His music is soft, melodic, and emotional. Check out the music video for his latest single “Frogtown” below and then read what band’s NPR performance he can’t get enough of.

“Right now, I’m psyched on and fascinated by the Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert. It is an incredible live performance, supremely tasteful and sophisticated – yet fearlessly casual and candid. It has a next-level feel, flow, and energy. Contained, yet undeniably powerful.

As we all grow older, it is easy to feel like you’ve seen and heard everything and nothing can light you up (or tear at your heart strings) any longer…but then a song, or a voice, or a riff, or a band, or a performance…knocks you off your feet and you feel that pull again.”

(designer, Gawker Media and Professional Mess)

I actually met Heather through Liam years ago. She’s a dope graphic designer and the reigning Queen of the NYC Pop Punk [what she’s saved in my phone as]. She recently started an art collective called Professional Mess where you can buy cool things like an enamel pin of a brown lunch bag that says “dicks” on it. You know, a bag of dicks.

Bad Hunter in Chicago. Who knew lemon tempura was a thing I was missing in my life? Classic cocktails in beautiful barware + incredible vegetarian options just bumped this restaurant up to one of my favorites in the city.

White Sneakers all summer. It’s the time of year I re-up on my favorite classic white shoes (Converse Shoreline and Vans Authentics) and spend the next 3 months destroying them. It doesn’t feel like summer to me until I have a pair of fresh blindingly white shoes to break in.

CayetanaNew Kind of Normal. I don’t know how an album this emotionally raw can still feel like a summer album but it’s working for me. I haven’t listened to much else since it was released. Easy to Love & Dust are my current fav tracks.

Marfa Modern. Beautiful photo book of incredibly designed homes in the West Texas desert. Marfa holds a special place in my heart and having this gorgeous book on my coffee table is an inspiration for my home and a reminder of the time I spent there.

(musician, guitarist for the Broadway show Beautiful [and more])

Freddy is an amazing musician who has toured professionally on first national tour of Duncan Shiek’s Tony award winning Spring Awakening. He recently released an album called Nothing in the Open. You can check out a live performance of the title track below.

First: I’m a big podcast listener/fan and I’m really into this new podcast from WNYC (same people who bring you Radiolab) called Nancy. It’s goal is to break down the gay stereotypes. They interview celebrities and random folks, but it’s insightful and entertaining. Not preachy but empathetic. The site is here:

Also a huge fan of the not so new Love + Radio, a rougher-around-the-edges version of This American Life:

Second: I just read this great article in the New Yorker about Richard Russell, the head of XL Records (the dude who brought you the Prodigy, Adele and the XX… to name a few). Not only is it an incredible article, it’s also littered with new music to check out. I’m currently making my way through all the artists they mention.

(band, Phoenix)

The Real Fits consists of Nick Smith, Raquel Willand, Blair Furmanski, Jared Wood, and Johl Driscoll. They released their Drown in Gold EP in late 2016 and just released a new song called “Pretty Bastard” this summer. They’ve been putting on fun shows led by Willand’s sultry vocals around the Phoenix area as well as opening for bands in Los Angeles and Denver. Check out their new song below.

The Tunes We Dig:  Our latest obsessions include Big Thief, Tennis, Jay Som and the brilliant Andy Shauf. Basically, we get gripped by amazing composers who seem to find the exact note at the exact moment.

River Floatin’:  We’ve made a goal to float the Salt River in Mesa once per week. Nothing like getting drunk and letting the river have its way with you.

Daisy:  The band house recently had a new baby, a kitten by the name of Daisy. She is the sweetest, cutest, most precious little demon we’ve ever laid eyes on. We’re all enamored.

Shady Paaaaaark:  There exists a sweet little spot down by the street of Mill Avenue called Shady Park. We like to go and stuff our faces with ramen and vegan wings while we throw back as many sake bombs as possible.

(founders, Writer’s Bone)

I reached out to these guys a year ago to write for their Boston-based literary site. They’ve given me a lot of freedom in interviewing authors that other sites wouldn’t go near because of… literary politics. Ford’s debut novel Sid Sanford Lives! is coming out soon. The duo also host a literary/writing podcast where they interview a lot of terrific authors. Here are book suggestions from the site’s latest monthly installment of books that should be on your radar.

Daniel Ford: Don Winslow is generally regarded as the current king of crime fiction, and his new novel The Force (out June 20) adds another bauble to his crown. What happens when the people sworn to protect us are just as nefarious and organizational corrupt as those destined for prison or death? Winslow’s portrait of Denny Malone, a highly decorated NYPD detective sergeant called “the King of Manhattan North,” provides answers to that perilous question while also crafting an entertaining thrill ride. Malone’s crew, called “Da Force,” would be more at home in a Martin Scorsese mobster movie rather than cleaning up the streets of New York City. A drug bust gone bad (or good if you’re the dirty cops hoping to pad their retirement nest egg with the purloined narcotics) sets the plot in motion and leads to Malone’s crisis of conscience. Is that enough to protect Malone’s way of life and the group of men he values above everything else in his life (including his estranged wife, his girlfriend, and his kids)? You’ll lose plenty of sleep finding out the answer to that one.

Sean Tuohy: Author of the highly acclaimed The Lost City Of Z, David Grann comes back with a fantastic new book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. During the 1920s, the Osage tribe of Oklahoma was one of the wealthiest groups on the planet because of the oil on its land. The tribe soon found itself in the crosshairs of a deadly conspiracy. With mounting bodies, the newly formed FBI, under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover, stepped in to solve the case.

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