HITS Daily Double

One of the worst things you can say to me is that I “missed the point.” It would be less hurtful if you called me ugly (whatever), stupid (good luck with that) or stubborn (thank you). Working here for the past 25 years has given me (and my co-workers) a perch from which to view the whole of the music industry, as well as each of its parts. I am also blessed/cursed with the type of brain that can’t remember anything important (like, say, history), but I know every job you’ve ever had and every record you’ve ever worked.

Within a few minutes, today I bombarded Matt Pollack with Baby Chaos, Dambuilders, Happyhead, Mest and Wank, and recalled a random conversation I had with Rostam from Vampire Weekend on the night Arcade Fire won the Grammy for Album of the Year. I am exhaustive, exhausting and, without question, exhausted. Tell me I’m a control freak and I’ll say thank you. It is not my nature to “miss points,” or anything else, for that matter.

Yes, that level of vigilance and awareness keeps me awake at night. I look at the stats, read the room and listen to those smarter than I am. My advice to friends is to be completely, unequivocally RIGHT at least twice a year (cue up Aqualung’s “Something to Believe In”; I’ll wait). Here’s an example: Last year, Dustin Matthews, PD at WRXL Richmond took a chance on X Ambassadors f/Jamie N. Commons’ “Jungle,” and invited the band to play his Xmas show. Subsequently, he spoke reverentially about their performance and his eagerness to hear new material. With the release of “Renegades,” he was a vocal advocate within iHeart, and likely played a key role in the radio group’s decision to anoint the song On the Verge at Modern Rock. Now, “Renegades” has been #1 for weeks, and the album, VHS, is currently Top 10 at iTunes. (I bought the X Ambassadors’ record first thing this morning so I could play “Unsteady”—my favorite of theirs—on repeat.) The point (unmissed) is that Dustin took a chance, was right and his support will be remembered by those who keep track of such things (which includes his bosses, I hope)…

“We Used to Vacation” is the title of the first Cold War Kids song I ever heard, probably a decade ago, played by Nic Harcourt on KCRW. At first, I thought it was Crowded House, until the chorus kicked in, so I called Nic while he was on the air to find out what it was. Now, at last, the band has the biggest radio hit of its career. Mark Czarra at Downtown Records is thrilled, obviously. I know what it’s like to devote a decade to a band without ever quite delivering that career-defining SMASH you wished for them. Being ahead of the curve is often the toughest road to take…

Just as certain songs have “magic”—like Houndmouth’s “Sedona,” which is already performing like a Top 10 smash—there are artists who are also “magic.” Maybe they haven’t had a radio hit (yet), but there is something about their talent that stands out above others. Beck, as I’ve often stated, is a genius, nearly without peer. I hold Win Butler and Britt Daniel in equal regard with Beck, and I’m not wrong in my assessment. Courtney Barnett is next. I heard “Dead Fox” on Beats 1 today, and it slayed me. She is Patti Smith for this generation. Elle King is redefining “swagger” in Modern Rock. Father John Misty, Dawes, Best Coast, Yeasayer, Phases, Coleman Hell, Robert DeLong, FIDLAR, Coasts (love, love, love)—each poised to have the best year of their careers. Playing Leon Bridges is the best programming decision you’ll make this summer. Time to break some records, friends. 

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