Tunesday: The Long Haul

Welcome to another edition of Tunesday — three non-studio-version songs that’ve caught my eyes recently. I know it’s been a while (like, two months) since the last post, so I found a loophole to pack more music into this post.

KEXP is a radio station in Seattle, Wash. My favorite thing about this station is the sheer spread of names that come into the studio for live performances — Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Macklemore, alt-J, Ra Ra Riot, tUnE-yArDs, Band of Horses, plus dozens and dozens of bands I’ve never heard of before. I don’t necessarily love everything I come across, but the guests are always intentional, musical beings who care about what they’re putting out into the world.

The sets run around 30 minutes, with a smattering of songs, banter and thoughtful interviewing. They’re good for discovering artists you hadn’t heard of before, listening to while studying (or blogging) or sharing with friends who like an artist and want to hear a more unplugged style.

Here are three of my favorite full performances:

1. Noah Gundersen (and band)

Ugh. Noah. If you haven’t heard of this human, you’re missing out big time. I first got into him when my friend Jackson sent me “Garden” in a mix tape three years ago, and he’s been a constant source of thoughtful lyrics and a sort of worship that sounds like wrestling. I can’t say enough good things about him, and I hope you’ll give him a listen.

2. Mary Lambert (and band)

This is a powerhouse musician. You know her pipes from the hook of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love,” but she has more than just a background singer. Her song “Sarasavati” is jaw-dropping in the best way. The extended single of “She Keeps Me Warm” is one of my favorites simply for the line “I named both of her eyes/Forever and Please Don’t Go.” Plus she rocks red lipstick. My kind of woman.

3. alt-J

I have probably watched this complete set no less than five times. There is something about “Dissolve Me” live that I can’t shake. The band is so magnificent live it was hard for me to go back to the studio album. Also, when is this band coming out with new music? I need more of Joe Newman’s voice coming through my earbuds in techno-indie-sad-stuff form, please and thank you.

You can find all the full sessions and other performances on KEXP’s YouTube page.

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