Kicking things off on the first day of the year is Random Weekend selection from David Byrne’s 2004 album Grown Backwards.
In this very non-traditional movie year, the best film I’ve seen so far is Spike Lee’s presentation of American Utopia, a Broadway performance by David Byrne that ran between October of last year and February of 2020. The concert film is currently available for streaming on HBO Max.
Byrne’s show features a handful of tracks from his American Utopia album, released in 2018, but also cuts from the rest of his solo career and his time with Talking Heads. In between songs, Byrne opines on the state of America, offering an expansive and hopeful vision that couldn’t feel more welcome in this dark year.
Prior to this, Byrne has released a string of four great solo albums between 1989 and 1997, culminating with Feelings, the best of them. That period also found me in my late teens and early 20s, a prime musical discovery zone.
Byrne had always explored Afro/Caribbean sounds with Talking Heads (Naked being a great example) but he doubled down on the concept on this album. Every Rei Momo track features a different musical style, which is noted in the track list: cumbia, orisa, salsa, merengue, bomba, rumba, all that good stuff. Today’s SOTD is an example of ‘cha cha cha.’
Apart from Adele, nobody has the four-quadrant appeal of Taylor Swift. She parlayed country stardom into pop superstardom and is now pretty a much a genre unto herself. David Byrne is an indie rock, New Wave and world music pioneer who has influenced scores of modern musicians. Note: For the purposes of this face-off, we are considering only Byrne’s solo work, and not Talking Heads.