To celebrate The Jayhawks' new album, "Back Roads and Abandoned Motels," frontman Gary Louris shares a playlist with USA TODAY.
“Going All The Way,” The Squires
When it comes down to it, garage rock captures what rock 'n' roll is to me … a little dirty, a little naive and just plain fun. The Squires from Bristol, Connecticut, were one of the best, and put out this slice of teenage angst back in 1966. It still sounds exciting and fresh.
“The Take,” Ray Davies
OK, I can’t resist waving the flag for The Jayhawks' own Karen Grotberg, who does her best Chrissie Hynde on this Pretender-ish track from Davies' epic new record, "Our Country: Americana Act II."
“How Do You Talk,” Los Jaguares de la Bahia
The latest project from the genius indie producer Paco Loco. Crazy, funny and inventive, Paco has his own mini-Abbey Road in the south of Spain and is one of my personal heroes.
“Summer’s End,” John Prine
Concurrently heartbreaking and smile-inducing, this song from the brilliant new record "The Tree of Forgiveness" is one I wish I would have (or could have) written. My favorite kind of lyrics … simple "aw, shucks" poetry with heavy, thought-provoking meaning.
“The Trees,” Max Richter
I became familiar with Max after reading that Elisabeth Moss, star of possibly my favorite TV program, "The Handmaid’s Tale," listened to his music while preparing to shoot upcoming scenes. Heavy, light, a hint of Procol Harum on this cut mixed with the best cinematic touches that take you to a place of bare trees and cold beauty.
“Happiness,” Nat Simons
The title says it all … a gorgeous little pop song of joy sung by Nat and sister Elena. I had the pleasure of producing this emerging Spanish artist’s new record, "Lights," and am proud to introduce her to an American audience.
“Los Ninos del Parque,” Liaisons Dangereuses
My fiance, who is a native German, turned me on to this pretechno minimalist track by an underground duo who released only one album in 1981. Considered by many modern EDM DJs in the Northeast as one of the seminal tracks of the German new-wave genre, this production stands out as it features Spanish vocals and sparse, dark and crude synthesizer vibes, which melt punk with electro groove that even hardcore prog rock fans like me can appreciate.
“Theme for Great Cities,” Simple Minds
Unlike other new wave or new romantic bands in the early '80s, Simple Minds eschewed minimalist, flat beats and tones and went for spacious and looming soundscapes on "Sisters Feelings Call" and "Sons and Fascination." This instrumental track sounds like a cinematic vision realized for a soundtrack, featuring dynamic movement of large objects or structures passing by, seen from a moving train window. Hypnotic and orchestral, “Theme for Great Cities” foregrounds an irresistible bass line that is signature for this period of Simple Minds' recordings.
“Disappearing Things,” Michelle McAdorey
An underappreciated but immensely talented double threat from Toronto, Canada, Michelle has a distinctive voice that pierces my heart, and she writes smart, mature and insightful songs with lyrics that are part poetry and part life lessons.
“Stay In My Corner,” The Dells
I’ve loved this song ever since our first manager played it for me way back in 1985. It's a tour de force of slow build and vocal magic. Just listen to that long outro … it’s almost a mantra. Listen and tell me you are not moved.