Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Make Good Choices” by Sean Nelson from the 2013 album Make Good Choices on Really Records.
For the better part of two decades, Sean Nelson has been a consistent presence on the Seattle music scene in a variety of roles, each of which being uniquely Nelson and completely unpredictable. Although he might best known as the lead singer of the now-defunct Harvey Danger, he’s also recorded with The Minus 5, Nada Surf, Death Cab for Cutie, and The Decemberists, recorded an album of Harry Nilsson covers with a 25-piece orchestra, spent over a decade writing at The Stranger, taught a songwriting course at University of Washington, acted in the film My Effortless Brilliance, co-hosted Audioasis for five years, and wrote the 33 1/3rd entry for Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark. Nelson’s particularly full resume explains why his first batch of solo recordings is emerging in 2013. Recorded with a slew of his friends, Make Good Choices is perhaps the closest Nelson has ever come to making a record that condenses all of his strengths in one spot, but despite the record’s focus, it’s still restless with ideas in a quintessentially Nelson way. The record’s title track is a bouncy slice of sweetly sardonic pop, serving as an apt platform for Nelson’s clever lyrics. (Some choice one liners: “You even had the gall to ask for car fare”, “I’ve started hearing voices warning me to make good choices”, “I used to dream of you nightly/I’d wake up screaming.”) Like the rest of the album, “Make Good Choices” is a highly amusing, highly singable cut that hopefully doesn’t end up as just a footnote on Nelson’s biography. (Chances are that he’ll be around Seattle for at least another 20 years though, so that second solo album is bound to happen.)
Sean Nelson isn’t on tour at the moment (just look around Seattle if you really want to find him), but you can keep up with whatever he’s doing this week at his Facebook and Tumblr. Watch Sean read the poetry of Leonard Cohen below.