He’s not paid to think, just play

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51r49hza2ml_sl500_aa240_Ray Davies might be my favorite songwriter. As big a fan as I am of The Beatles and of Lou Reed’s work with the Velvet Underground, no songwriter as foundational to the sound of rock n’ roll seems to have perfectly executed their craft so consistently across a slew of amazing albums. I’ve been enjoying many of The Kinks’ seminal records for years (with my favorite alternating between Arthur and Lola), but only recently have I had the pleasure of listening to Face to Face.

Hidden behind a deceptively technicolor cover (Davies actually despised psychedelia) are many instrumental and lyrical gems, like the following from the song “Holiday in Waikiki”:

I didn't realize it was commercialized when I unpacked my cases, Because a genuine Hawaii ukulele cost me 30 guineas, And even when I'm swimming I have to pay. I'm just an English boy who won a holiday in Waikiki.

Genius! Highly recommended for Kinks fans new and old, as it establishes a fantastic jumping-on point between the British Invasion goodness of the original Pye records and the more distinctly purposeful Something Else.

I’ve also been enjoying Fantastic Playroom from English dance-punk group New Young Pony Club. While not as illuminating as LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver, it’s a wonderful mixture of electronic and new wave sensibilities wrapped in a perfect pop package that, despite it’s frivolity, manages to feel relevant in this age of mainstream tech and pronounced popular culture. Have a listen:

Finally, I’d love to share Michael Masnick’s excellent Trent Reznor case study, in which he analyzes the Nine Inch Nails frontman’s strategy of connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy. Recommended for those interested in music, art, business or the web.