THE LISTENING ROOM
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Nomad, Songman, Hi-Fi DIY
If you don’t know Brett Newski, that may be because he has existed on the fringe of society & avoided the “American Dream” at all costs. But he’s definitely someone that music fans will want to know. At age 25, he took matters into his own hands by quitting all of his part-time jobs and becoming a full-time nomad, posting up in the nooks & crannies of earth and sub-letting rooms in Vietnam, South Africa, Germany and Wisconsin to write songs & recharge between tours. Newski has received praise from Rolling Stone, Paste, & The Boston Globe and has been compared to Violent Femmes, Jonathan Richman, They Might be Giants, early Weezer, & Frank Turner.
This spring Newski decided to bypass the music industry and go straight to the people with his Sub-Urban House Concert Tour: early shows in odd-ball living rooms, lofts, and cozy basements. No late-night clubs, just nice n' early shows in cool, intimate spaces. This editor’s “cozy basement” was one of the stops on his tour and that’s when we got him to share some of his listening picks with us at The Avenue.
Brett offers up lots of good listening below, but make sure to check out his own work, too!
Brett Newski RIDE music video here https://youtu.be/KW5sn8lhzY0.
Where is the world is Brett?
Or check out his inner circle here:
“We always hear that old cliche "music is the best medicine." It's so over-used, we tend to forget how true it is.
“Since I was a little kid, I always had worries that people were pissed off at me, or didn't like me, or that maybe I wasn't useful to anyone. Lots of self-doubt. It turns out that these worries are just irrational thoughts my doctor called general anxiety and depression.
“When my worries run rampant and I'm struggling, there are a small handful of albums I use to feel better. They are completely medicinal records and they help almost every time. I hope it is useful to you.
“Even if you're not feeling bummed, these are freakin' amazing albums that you may love to infinity. They totally changed the way I look at music.”
Rocky Votolato - Makers https://youtu.be/RaG2xINk5B4
Opening track “White Daisy Passing” was deemed the greatest breakup song of all time by modern philosopher Duncan Trussell. Makers gets straight down to the raw core of depression and holds nothing back. Rocky takes you to emotional rock bottom before dropping you back into sweet oxygen just before you run out of breath.
AJJ (Formerly “Andrew Jackson Jihad”) - Can't Maintain https://youtu.be/MlthVn0jeoI
This one truly pulled me thru the lurch. Sean Bonnette is the bravest songwriter I’ve ever witnessed. His ability to make fun of his own depression places “Can't Maintain” as the most medicinal music on this list.
Sharon Van Etten - Tramp https://youtu.be/exJ3AG0JIeo
Tramp provides the perfect introspective soundtrack to stare at the ceiling to. I put this record on when I want to think about nothing at all, which is a tricky place to get to. Empty thoughts are the first step to escaping a state of “depresh”.
Ezra Furman & the Harpoons - Banging Down the Doors https://youtu.be/Y__nqonGyEo
This record redefined the way I look at music. Ezra wrote all of these tunes in his teenage years. Lightning in a bottle. His undeveloped, wobbly vocals are a perfect vent for the agonies of anxiety and depression.
Tim Barry - Lost and Rootless https://youtu.be/kUVNfk4xTlk
Barry is perhaps the most literal songwriter on the planet. Easily digestible and accurate storytelling make Barry’s raw folk-punk extremely palatable. Barry touches on the burdens of middle age while having a sense of humor about it. Few men have described the obstacles of being an Average Joe in an unforgiving America so accurately.
Guster - Ganging up on the Sun https://youtu.be/FrreDSNmT04
Never known as being one of the “super cool bands”, Guster has always focused on songwriting precision over image or “the scene”. We are talking about perfect pop songs here people. “Sun” places you into your own vivid nostalgia and allows you to let go of the past.
Felice Brothers - Self Titled https://youtu.be/5pRdYbyw1Jk
Raw, underproduced music tends to get overlooked by the masses. I recommend listening to this in big headphones all by yourself on the front porch. The first Felice Brothers record time-travels you into a 1930’s worm hole. If Franklin Delaware Roosevelt liked indie rock, this would be his favorite band. Escape the present with this record.
Jessica Lea Mayfield - Sorry Is Gone https://youtu.be/ThjnFCGbP1Y
Perfect minimalism record in which Mayfield remains 100% vulnerable in her songwriting. JLM is at the top of her game right at this very moment.
Frank Turner - Love Ire Song https://youtu.be/zPOaZfb_aw8
Easily the most optimistic album on this list, Turner’s sophomore breakthrough LP exposes the shams of the status quo in plain English. Love Ire Song encourages us to be happy by sticking to what makes us feel valued, even if those philosophies are unpopular with peers or parents.
Chris Staples - American Soft https://youtu.be/vaIS-tY57Zg
Massively underrated gem American Soft is the perfect way to vent out melancholy. Staples does the work for you.
What are YOU listening to? We’d love to hear! All that’s required is your love for music! Send your current playlist and a few words about it to email@example.com – you could be featured in The Listening Room!