Tag: Question&obsession

Tunes We’re Spinning Over and Over Again This Summer

tunes were spinning over and over again this summer

Vanessa Wheeler joins us in naming the tracks we’re currently playing “on repeat.” Plus, our latest musical obsessions!


Q: What’s your “on repeat” song/album right now and what drew you to it?

Vanessa Wheeler — VAVÁ

A: I’ve been listening to the Tycho remix of MUNA and the Knocks’ song, “Bodies,” consistently since it was released back in September 2020. I don’t know if I can say that it’s so much an “obsession” at this point, but a tune that makes it onto most of my playlists because of how I used to be obsessed with it during a time when I was both sad and yet dancing. The original is a fun song to be sure, but the Tycho remix brings in these satisfying acoustic drum samples, smoother and more subdued synth samples, and extended breaks between verses that allow the listener to really sit within the mood. I’m not even sure what the song is about, but hearing words like “bodies in the basement” and “I’ve been thinking about home,” combined with the aforementioned, speaks to a certain kind of melancholy or longing for something that seems impossibly far away.

The Knocks & MUNA – Bodies (Tycho Remix) [Official Visualizer]

Vanessa Wheeler’s Current Obsession:

I’d been looking for a little, black acoustic guitar that wouldn’t break the bank —something I could travel with that sounded good and felt comfortable to my primarily electric-guitar-playing hands.

I was lucky enough to get a Taylor GTe Blacktop. I love how slack the short scale makes the strings feel, how compact the neck width is without feeling miniature, and the way it sounds particularly good with fingerstyle playing.

I recently played it unplugged in a beautiful 75-seat theater on the grounds of the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, and it performed beautifully. As a traveling musician, I know I can pop this “little” guitar in an overhead bin and take it everywhere I go.

Joseph Torres — Reader of the Month

A: “In the Nick of Time,” from Ken Burns’ The War documentary. Ken Burns always knows how to pick good music for a documentary series, and this is no exception.

In the Nick of Time

This song drew me in because it gives an adventurous feeling when listening to it, like you’re a fighter pilot in the middle of an epic dogfight.

Joseph Torres’ Current Obsession:

The bass guitar. While primarily a guitarist, I’ve been playing bass on and off for the past seven years now. Until a few months ago, I’d lost interest in it and wanted to focus more on being a guitar player. However, as I kept listening to Cream, I kept paying more attention to Jack Bruce’s bass parts. Jack Bruce has become a tremendous influence on me ever since. He, Geezer Butler, and James Jamerson have convinced me also to play more with my fingers. You get a more intimate connection with the instrument that way.

Tessa Jeffers — Managing Editor

A: Lord Huron’s “Your Other Life.” A friend included it on our road-trip playlist, and the instant it came on, I knew it was gonna be my track of the summer.

Lord Huron – Your Other Life (Official Music Video)

I’ve spun it every day for the last month. The swooning strings, terribly romantic bass line, and ohhh the singsong of a love gone wrong but still strong. Absolutely mesmerizing!

Tessa Jeffers’ Current Obsession:

Musician biographies and memoirs. I’ve read dozens and dozens, but last month I finally finished Slash’s bodacious (and ridiculous) larger-than-life tale. I just found Willie Nelson’s My Life and Alicia Keys’ More Myself at a used bookstore, so I’m set for a while.

Nick Millevoi — Associate Editor

A: “Synchro System” by King Sunny Adé. The sound on this track is so hip—it’s like musical sunshine. The interaction between the acoustic percussion and the interlocking guitar and steel riffs creates a hypnotic texture, and the ’80s production elevates the whole vibe.

Syncro System – King Sunny Ade & His African Beats – 1984

I keep watching live videos from this period, and “Synchro System” is always a set highlight, complete with dance instruction.

Nick Millevoi’s Current Obsession:

My Strat XII. After spending the early 2010s touring the U.S. and Europe with this guitar, I needed a long break. But now, I’m obsessed once again! It’s great for tight, clean riffs, and it keeps being the magic “something” that makes my recordings bloom.

How Many Amps Do You Use?

how many amps do you use

Kevin Morby joins the discussion of what we’re plugging our guitars into these days. Plus, musical obsessions!


Q: Do you own or use more than one amp—why or why not?

Kevin Morby — Guest Picker

Kevin Morby

A: I technically own four different amps. Two different Orange 15-watt practice amps that are great for recording and running vocals through in my living room. I also own a Supro and Fender Vibrolux. The Fender Vibrolux is my most used amp, and the Supro is good if I ever want a lot of overdrive.

Kevin Morby’s Current Obsession:

My current musical obsession is MJ Lenderman, a young artist from Asheville, North Carolina, who is making incredible music. If I didn’t know his backstory, I would maybe think I was listening to a lost demo from the early ’90s Drag City submissions bin. But it’s not from then, it’s from now, and it’s amazing. I listened to it while mowing the lawn recently and it was perfect lawn-mowing music. He is also incredible at guitar. Go listen!

Joseph Müs Contento — Reader of the Month

A: Yep, and I use them both at the same time. Got a Vox Night Train combo set clean and a Marshall Class 5 set dirty, and the resulting sound is a sparkly, gritty mix. Chimey and articulate, while warm and meaty. Best of both worlds.

Eventually I want a Fender ’65 Princeton Reissue and a Marshall Silver Jubilee 20-watt combo to really accentuate those qualities. I also use stereo delay and ping-pong the signal between the two amps. The further I physically keep the amps away from each other, the more dramatic the effect. It’s trippy and atmospheric AF, fills out the space between notes, and I love it.

Joseph Müs Contento Current Obsession:

Continuing to build the coolest guitars I can. I’ve settled into my job at Gibson Custom and have slowly built up a woodshop of my very own. The inaugural build that I just started this spring is my entry to this year’s Great Guitar Build-Off. I’m excited to dig my teeth into my new tools and techniques and to see how far I’ve come as a luthier in the past two years!

Shawn Hammond — Chief Content Officer

A: Yes! I love the variety of tones and textures imparted by different types of power tubes—and that you can further tweak responsiveness with preamp-tube swaps.

My ’76 Fender Vibrolux Reverb (6L6 tubes) is a killer pedal platform and pairing it with a Fender Rumble 200 bass amp adds massive oomph. An old Fender Vibro Champ (6V6) is great for middle-of-the-night playing that still sounds nice (I hate headphones).

A Sound City SC30 (KT66s) yields a huge array of British tones with killer reverb, a Goodsell Valpreux 21 (6973s) is great for soulful, old-school tones at a reasonable volume, while a Jaguar HC50 (EL34s) combo has big, brawny sounds, thanks to its Hiwatt-esque circuit and oversized cab.

Shawn Hammond’s Current Obsession: 

Current obsession: Fontaines D.C.’s new album, Skinty Fia.

Ted Drozdowski — Senior Editor

A: I’ve curated my amps for a wide variety of tones, and I love having Marshall, Fender, Carr, Supro, Orange, and Quilter sounds at ready for the stage—where I run in stereo—and studio.

After many years, I’ve found a voice as a guitarist that’s my own, and blending a variety of amps, guitars, and effects is part of it.

Ted Drozdowski’s Current Obsession:

Germanium fuzz and octave fuzz pedals. Over the past year I’ve gone deep into fuzzworld and acquired a pile of stomps, including three custom builds (my one-off Burns Buzzaround clone with four germanium chips is satanically heavenly), and they’ve expanded my sonic vocabulary even more. I want to keep it expanding, like the universe.

Studio Dreams: What Producer Would You Choose?

Jazz virtuoso Lionel Loueke joins us in contemplating who we’d put at the helm while making the album of a lifetime. Plus, musical obsessions!


Q: If you could make an album with any producer, alive or dead, who would it be?

Lionel Loueke — Guest Picker

A: Quincy Jones. He’s done so much. He’s someone I’d love to work with just to get a different experience. I love his work but the main one for me is Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I know him personally: I went to Morocco with him when he was presenting the Global Gumbo All Stars, and I also worked with him in the studio when I was playing with Herbie Hancock on his new project. Quincy wasn’t producing, Terrace Martin was the producer, but it was so good to be in the studio with all those great musicians.

What I really like about Quincy is how he detects talent. Producing is one thing, but he finds the right musicians who have something unique or different to say. I mean, Ray Charles … he’s produced so many greats in all genres.

Lionel Loueke’s Current Obsession:

Right now, my obsession is all about the drums. I feel like I present myself as being a frustrated drummer, because I play a lot of percussion on the guitar and I started as a percussion player, so it’s always been part of what I do. I’m not looking to be a drummer, I just feel really connected to any percussion instrument, and I feel drums will help me go even deeper in my musical multitasking.

I think it was Miles Davis who said that every musician should try to play drums. And I truly believe that because with the drums you have four parts of your body to synchronize: legs, arms, feet, hands. When it comes to rhythmically thinking, drums are something every musician should try.

I just talked to my friend, drummer Ferenc Nemeth, who has been playing in my band for 20 years, about buying a drum kit because I don’t have one. Right now, I have drumsticks and I’m beating on everything [laughing].

Matt Dunn — Reader of the Month

A: I would probably pick Brian Eno/Daniel Lanois specifically because of their work on The Unforgettable Fire album with U2. While I’m mostly into punk/garage rock, I was always so blown away by early U2 records and their approach to songwriting. I would do anything to write my own versions of “Bad” or “A Sort of Homecoming” with their guidance and production.

U̲2 – The Unforgettable Fire CD2 Deluxe (Full Album)

Matt Dunn’s Current Obsession:

Bad Religion. Despite being a punk fan my whole life, I was always more into English and East Coast bands. I recently tried to expand my world to include those SoCal punk bands and I cannot find anyone better than them. “Streets of America,” “American Jesus,” and “We’re Only Gonna Die” are on repeat.

Ted Drozdowski — Senior Editor

A: It’s a toss between T Bone Burnett and Daniel Lanois.

I love the low sound T Bone perfected with his own The True False Identity and Alison Krauss/Robert Plant’s Raising Sand. But I’m crazy about how Lanois brings the ambient playbook to roots music, producing great albums for Dylan, Emmylou Harris, the Nevilles, and more.

Ted Drozdowski’s Current Obsession:

I’m in the early stages of working on a feature-length film incorporating songs, storytelling, psychedelic lighting, original artwork, and aerial dance. How could I not be obsessed about it?

Nick Millevoi — Associate Editor

A: The Flaming Lips and Dave Fridmann. I can’t begin to predict how my music and their vision would really come together, and that’s what I love about the idea of working with those guys. Every Lips album and side project is completely immersive and multidimensional. It would be a dream to tap into their whole technicolor vibe and see how they’d handle sounds, arrangements, and writing firsthand.

Flaming Lips – See the Leaves

Nick Millevoi’s Current Obsession:

Eighties drum machines. I’m deep in the throes of an obsession: I recently bought an Alesis HR-16 and the sounds are so sick—and so ’80s! —but it has opened up a potential gear wormhole.

Meeting Your Heroes

meeting your heroes

Warpaint’s Emily Kokal joins us in discussing memorable run-ins with our favorite players. Plus, musical obsessions!


Q: Have you ever met one of your guitar heroes? How did it go?

Emily Kokal — Warpaint

A: Yes—John Frusciante. It went great; we ended up living together for three years.

Emily Kokal’s Current Obsession

Huerco S. and all things old and new ambient. Suzanne Ciani, Eno, Jon Hopkins, Autechre, Boards of Canada, Tony Scott. I listened to the Huerco S. album For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) constantly before writing our new album. I don’t know if it had any direct effect on the album itself, but my favorite song on the record is called “Promises of Fertility,” and it did have a direct effect there, I think, because I’ve since had a child.

Howard Van Ackooy — Reader of the Month

A: I met Roger McGuinn back when the Byrds played the Peekskill Palace on June 29, 1969. They had just released Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde, and McGuinn had a completely new Byrds lineup with Clarence White, John York, and Gene Parsons. It wasn’t exactly a popular time for the Byrds, and they were playing an afternoon and evening show that day. The afternoon show was a very small crowd, and my brother and I were sitting in the first row, waiting for the concert to begin. Roger walks in with his Rickenbacker over his shoulder and sits down between me and another guy and starts talking to us, and even asked us what songs we’d like to hear. It was a moment I’ll never forget, and both the afternoon and evening performances were terrific.

Howard Van Ackooy’s Current Obsession:

My musical obsessions center around my love of guitars. It was hearing The Byrds’ Mr. Tambourine Man and seeing Roger (then Jim) McGuinn playing that Rickenbacker 12-string that made me want to play guitar. I started taking lessons, and even had a pair of those McGuinn “granny glasses.” Since then, I’ve acquired many guitars (mostly electric) and, of course, had to have a Rickenbacker (I have two: a 36012-string in jetglow, and a 360 6-string in mapleglow, like Roger’s). I currently play in a local band, Stark Raven, mostly for fun, and love playing any type of guitar rock!

Shawn Hammond — Chief Content Officer

A: While covering the 2007 Ellnora Guitar Festival at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, I made my way to a beverage area set up for press and artists who’d arrived the night before the show opened. As I perused the small spread of beers, in walked one of my biggest influences from my teen years—the man who’d almost single-handedly gotten me into funky chords and blistering chromatic runs: Vernon Reid of Living Colour.

Before you knew it, we were sitting elbow to elbow on a comfy little couch, shooting the breeze about this and that. Truthfully, I can’t remember a single thing we talked about. I’m sure I came across like a starstruck, bumbling fool, but cool ol’ Vern must be used to that, because he didn’t let it show!

Shawn Hammond’s Current Obsession:

I don’t know if I can quite call it an “obsession” (yet?), but I’m definitely finding myself more and more intrigued with opera, including Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème.

Jason Shadrick — Associate Editor

A: In 2004, my girlfriend (now wife) and I were at the Blue Note in New York to hear Jim Hall and Charlie Haden play as a duo. After the set we headed upstairs to hit the restroom before catching a cab. As I waited for her, the dressing room door opened a crack and out walked Jim Hall. “Hey man, how are you?” he said. I somehow formed a sentence before he invited me into his dressing room and closed the door. A few minutes later Charlie Haden popped in and I had this amazing talk with two absolute heroes. Then the door suddenly opened and both Jim and Charlie looked puzzled as this woman (my girlfriend) barged in. “She’s with me, guys.” Nearly 20 years later, that has become a core memory for me.

Jason Shadrick’s Current Obsession:

Thanks to a few musical pit gigs (Kinky Boots and The Sound of Music), I’ve been drilling down on my reading chops. It’s very fulfilling to be tasked to play the exact same thing night after night while a live theater show is happening above your head. There’s no musical issue that 100 gigs can’t fix.