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Workshop Hi-Fi for Valentine's

posted by Matt Pierce on February 13, 2017

Valentine's Day is upon us and you know what that means... A special day dedicated to being in love. In the spirit of this indispensable holiday, W&F presents you with a very special Workshop Hi-Fi edition – four hand-picked records to enjoy while you eat nachos.

First record comes from the legendary artist Aretha Franklin. Not much new can be said about this woman, and she's got to be a obvious choice for every record collection, but I cannot ignore her effect on my life. This woman is pure class and has experienced the highs and heartbreaks that few of us will ever know. She's been recognized by Rolling Stone as the number one singer of all time, she was the first woman inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and she has a Presidential Medal of Freedom. One of my favorite songs of all time is on this record – 'Chain of Fools', therefore I have to recommend that you add Aretha: Lady Soul to your collection immediately.

Nachos to enjoy while playing Aretha: Lady Soul – Homemade, classic American midwest-style nachos. Corn tortilla chips, layers of grated cheddar cheese, chunky salsa, black olives. Bake in the oven, then add a dollop of sour cream.  

The XX have a new record out, I See You. It's an interesting departure from their previous work and seemingly more up-beat and stylistically more broad. All of that is a good thing, even if it wasn't what I was hoping for. The record starts out with more pep than I expected, but as you realize what they are going for, everything starts to make sense. It's like the first sunny day after a Portland winter... you're not sure what's happening and you don't know why you're grinning at first.

Nachos to enjoy while playing I See You – order the vegan nachos at El Nutri in Portland, Oregon. At first you're like "What is this?", then you're like "Oooh, yeah, okay... I get it."

Al Green. Another legend, another obvious choice, but when you love music and nachos like I do, he's a man you cannot dismiss. Surprisingly Let's Stay Together is the first album that Al received a number one song. Al's voice is unmistakable and he's got a lot of great records to start with... if you want a more romantic tone, explore I'm Still In Love With You.

Nachos to enjoy while playing Let's Stay Together – Loaded nachos. Pull out the stops when Al Green sings. Let the music move you. Lots of cheese, preferably hot queso. Jalepeños, chorizo, black beans, more queso. Do not wear white, keep plenty of napkins nearby.

I've talked about Jim James' Eternally Even in W&F channels before, and everyone in the workshop is getting sick of hearing it at this point, but wow... what a good one. Just released on vinyl recently, so I have been waiting to drop it into a Workshop Hi-Fi post. Lots of soul influences, and you know he's already got every Aretha and Al Green record in print, but he really has the voice and production talent to pull the style off. This could not have been made in the My Morning Jacket framework, so it's refreshing to hear him stretch and explore. 

Nachos to enjoy while playing Eternally Even – Something simple... melted cheddar, chips, salsa. This is a complex album with lots to hear; it has subtleties that you might miss with a more advanced nacho.