The TopDollar Ten - September 2017


Even though it’s a bit late for a September top ten, gosh darn it, this playlist is swell as heck! Every song is filled with goosebumps, daydreams and a good cry or two. Beware of emotional catharsis! (just enjoy ‘em) Oh, they’re not in any order.

Underlined Passages – Ruthenia
I’d like to meet Ruthenia.

Tobin Sprout - Atom Eyes (sprite version)
Eternally in high rotation

Lusterlit - Nothing
Comfort in nothing.

Karla Kane - Don't Hush, Darling
A lullaby. The lullaby.

Driving home alone

SAL MINEO - Sharp Dressed Man
No nonsense biography.

Elvis Costello - Girls Talk (alt. Version)
I don't ask questions.

Grant Hart - The Main (acoustic)
This is how I define Mr. Hart.

Michael Cera  w/ Sharon Van Etten - Best I Can
Playful, sweet and pure.

Courtney Farren - Change Your Mind
I tear up remembering second chances that'll never happen.

Courtney Farren - Nothing Like It (Self-Released)


If you’re sitting in a bar and the memories of a past love fill your head, Courtney Farren’s debut album Nothing Like It is a quiet voice that lets you know that you’re not alone. With straightforward lyrics, subtle arrangements, and gorgeous vocals she is the saint of the broken-hearted.

“Nothing Like It”, the title track is a confession in third person and a sympathetic ode to loss, which sets a lush yet stark tone for the entire album. Later in the album, her effortless vocals and chord changes in “Someone”, reminds one of the work of Aimee Mann in her album, Lost In Space. With the last song, “Change Your Mind”, Courtney brings the whole album full circle. Reminiscent of the song, “Taxi Ride” from the album, “The Speckless Sky” by Jane Siberry, it is a breathy and fitting end, full of longing and regret.

As much as all these songs stand on their own, Nothing Like It needs to be heard in one sitting. It’s not a stereotypical concept album. It is a snapshot of emotions that float through a broken heart. Vulnerable and honest, Courtney Farren never succumbs to the overplayed nostalgia for self pity.

Lusterlit - List of Equipment EP (Self-Released)

Lusterlit - List of Equipment lp art.jpg

Literature has been an inspiration for many musicians and bands. Susan Hwang and Charlie Nieland of Lusterlit have taken that to a honest and dreamlike place, on their new e.p., List of Equipment.

With the opening song, “Ceremony”, which is inspired by Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, it is obvious that Lusterlit have no problem capturing the inevitable moments of absurdist dread contained in the last moments in the book. I found myself drawn in with the slow and powerful sounds that are reminiscent from the band, Low. On the other end of the spectrum, we have “List of Equipment”, a song that comes from the book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Within the playful percussion and boldness of the piano, Nelson Riddle and Vic Mizzy would be proud.

List of Equipment is not only inspired by other books, like Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem or The Day of The Triffids, by John Wyndham, but the songs are illustrations that translate the thoughts and emotions of the characters within the pages. Lyrically and musically, every song integrates the author’s voice as well as their own. Love for the written word is an understatement when it comes to Lusterlit.