Favorite Artists, 2000’s: The Family Crest, Sufjan Stevens, San Fermin, Cloud Cult, Slow Meadow

Favorite Artists, 80’s-90’s: Level 42, American Music Club, The Cure, Kate Bush, Smashing Pumpkins, Suzanne Vega, 10,000 Maniacs


Not much new music for me lately. I’ve been focusing on equipment. After using my phone for the past decade to play and stream music, I researched digital music players (who doesn’t miss their iPod). I settled on the Hiby R3 digital audio player.  After using a middling Samsung galaxy for music, I had forgotten how good music can sound when using dedicated equipment. Streaming lossless files and Tidal high-definition audio files sounds so good. My happy place right now is putting on closed-back headphones, closing my eyes, and just listening to music.


San Fermin released a new album yesterday. It’s more straightforward pop, getting away from their chamberpop sound of earlier albums that I fell in love with. I need to give it a few more listens.

I spent months debating between Tidal, Qobuz, and youtube music for a preferred streaming service. I compared sampling rates, music libraries, how good they sound on mobile vs wired connections….you name it. Tidal was the winner.


I am thrilled the Live 105 has returned to the Bay Area airwaves. It’s the first time in years I have tuned into FM radio. I had forgotten how much better FM sounds than satellite radio, due to the higher bandwidth FM uses as compared to low-bandwidth satellite feeds.

Besides that, I’ve been digging into First Aid Kit. Solid folk-pop from Sweden. Bree and I went to see Bartees Strange, Clairo, and boygenius in concert. boygenius was the headliner, of course, but I really enjoyed the seet the Bartees Strange put on.


I joined Youtube Music. The rest of the family subscribes to Spotify. I chose Youtube since it gives you access to all the live recordings from Youtube. So, no new music for the past few months. But, I’ve been having too much fun create playlists of live performances from my favorite artists.


No new music has grabbed me lately. I’m starting to cycle through headphones again. Reducing my inventory. I currently own 13 pairs of headphones or IEM’s. Laura continually points out I only have 2 ears.

Tears for Fears and Cloud Cult both have new albums coming out by Mid-March. They both will be instabuys.


OK, I finally bought it to the Phoebe Bridgers hype. She is excellent. Her “Punisher” album was the best album of last year.

Also, I pared my headphone collection down a bit. Enjoying the Queen of Audio Vesper IEM’s, a very good choice that performs better than their $69 price. Also, using a Sennheiser Momentum 2 for when I want something over the ears. Both of these are now partnered with a EarStudio ES100 bluetooth receiver and DAC. This DAC is better than my LG40’s integrated DAC, and makes any headphones bluetooth capable. It’s my favorite tech toy of the year.


I’ve been in a retro mood, thanks to Westerman’s smooth pop that reminds me of the late 70’s. Joni Mitchell is getting quite a bit of play.


Recently purchased Slow Meadow’s entire discography. Matt Kidd’s exquisite compositions raises his music far above other modern ambient offerings. This is the music that has kept me centered during this trying year.


Sufjan Steven’s Ascension is heavenly. A slightly more electronic album, after the quieter Carrie and Lowell. The title track has me holding my breath in several places.


San Fermin’s latest album is excellent. They set a high standard for tight, polished, orchestral pop.


Slow Meadow’s Happy Occident has been the soundtrack of my life since it’s release in October. It’s been the serenity that has helped me make through the early winter.


Yvette Young is a musical supertalent from LA. With her band Covet, she churns out some of the best Prog Rock of recent years. He solo work as a singer songwriter on piano/guitar/violin is also exceptional. Here is an exceptional guitar and vocal track, while here is a killer piano and violin instrumental.


Mitzki’s ‘Be the Cowboy’ is the best album of the last several years. Geyser is the perfect powerpop/torch song all in one.

June 12th, 2018

Snail Mail’s new album Lush is way too good to be made by a 19 year old. Highly recommended.

March 20th, 2018

I am still on my headphone binge. I currently own 9 different pairs;

  • Over-the-ear
    • Sennheiser HD600
    • Massdrop x-EMU Purpleheart
  • On-ear
    • Beyerdynamic DT1350
    • Sennheiser HD219S
    • Koss Porta Pro
    • Sony MDRZX300
  • In-ear
    • Trinity Audio Icarus III IEM’s
    • MEE-Electronics Audio M6 Pro IEM’s
    • VE Monk Plus IEM’s

Listening to the different sound profiles that each of them offer has me listening to my older music as if I’m listening for the first time.

Not much new music. I’ve been finding a few hidden gems on Bandcamp. Sufjan Steven’s Carrie and Lowell-Live, sounds awesome on the open-backed HD600. You feel like you’re sitting on the front of the stage.

A small indie group from Brooklyn, The Gingerlys remind me of the power-pop perfection of the early 90’s with groups like the Popguns and the Pooh Sticks.

September 19th, 2017

No new music over the summer grabbed me and demanded my attention. I will say I grabbed a pair of Sennheiser HD 598 CS headphones, probably my nicest set of headphones I’ve ever owned. They’ve really changed the way I think about music listening, picking up all the nuances and not just looking for the punchiness of a solid bass line.

I went to a couple concerts over the summer, catching Family Crest in July and Cloud Cult in August. Tooks the kids to Cloud Cult, the second time they’ve seen them with me.

May 22nd, 2017

It’s been awhile. The Family Crest have a new EP, “Prelude to War”, that is getting alot of attention from me.

San Fermin’s new album Belong is quite good. A solid pop album all around.

October 18,2016

Still no new music capturing my attention, but that’s OK. I am becoming a economy headphone geek. Currently geeking out to the KZ ATE IEM’s, paired with my Fiio A3 portable amplifier. Combined with the built-in DAC of the LG V10, this is an extremely high-quality listening experience, on a budget.

July 5th, 2016

No new music recently, but a change in the listening technology….

I’ve moved all of my music over to my new LG V10 phone, retiring my old iPod. The V10 is the only phone on the market that has a built-in DAC. I use that, along with my Fiio A3 portable amplifier, to pump the most full sound profile I can get.

May 16th, 2016

Cloud Cult‘s newest album “The Seeker” is good, but has not made the same impression on me as their other albums have.

Mother Falcon’s Quiet Mind is getting major airplay for me right now.  It feels like something Burt Bacharach would’ve written, in the most perfect way possible.

June 3rd, 2015

San Fermin has a new album out, and have been enjoying that quite a bit. The Decemberists are also in the rotation.

Been on a heavy 10,000 Maniacs kick, circa late 80’s. In My Tribe has aged extremely well.


Fully exploring the Chamber Pop genre as mentioned in my previous post. The Family Crest’s Beneath The Brine album is my pleasant surprise of the fall. NPR’s All Songs Discovered turned me on to this small outfit from San Francisco.


Still continuing with a Sufjan Stevens kick.

I realized that my favorite genre is actually ‘chamber pop’. It’s the mix of strings, horns and other diverse instrumentation to the standard guitar/bass/drums/keyboard base sound. Sometimes its very harmonious and melodic, almost soft pop. Other times it is dense, lush, and multi-layered, almost symphonic. And, some of my favorite times is when it is jarring, chaotic, and used atonally to display raw emotion and power.

San Fermin’s self-titled album is an excellent example of chamber pop. It is at times all of the above. Still listening to the entire album several times a week.

While Cloud Cult will continue to be my favorite chamberpop band, San Fermin and Mother Falcon may work their way into heavy rotation on the iPod.


I have finally stumbled upon Sufjan Stevens, and am devouring his back catalog, especially his album Illinois. You can listen to most tracks from his website.

Haim’s album Days Are Gone is very good. A nice throwback to 70’s pop a la Fleetwood Mac.

Fall 2013

Back catalog of American Music Club, harkening back to my Bay Area days.

The Haunted Man, by Bat For Lashes. Still a solid album that’s been on solid rotation through the summer.

Love, by Cloud Cult.



The Bad Plus helped me in the drive from Nebraska to Washington. The eclectic jazz group’s ability to always surprise me was a welcome distraction across the great open areas in Wyoming and South Dakota.

A great live clip of theirs;