When I was about 11 years old, I heard my sister playing a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song (I think it was Runaway) and instantly felt shivers rush down my spine –– the vocals were so haunting, so beautiful; they struck me right to my core. I spent the rest of the day downloading their music off LimeWire (those were the good old days of torrenting). To my disappointment, when I listened to the rest of their music, I found myself at an odds; I felt addicted to the vocals, but could not quite get down with the slightly too aggressive lyrics and drum beats in most of their songs. Thus, with a void in my heart, I put the Yeah Yeah Yeahs away to never be revisited again… Until a faithful day in 2014, when my then-boyfriend and I went to see Her at the cinema. Once again, I heard that captivating voice, except this time it wasn’t screaming at me to dance till I’m dead; it was almost whispering to me, in tones that, for me, matched the singer’s voice perfectly, about love. Later that day, my void was finally able to be filled with Karen O’s solo tracks; here is a beautiful example of the kind of enchantment her voice holds.
A recent favourite of the internet’s music critics, Sampha has previously featured on songs from Kanye’s The Life of Pablo, Drake’s Nothing Was The Same, and one of my favourite electronic albums, SBTRKT’s SBTRKT. The song below, off his new album Process, sounds reminiscent of James Blake in Sampha’s more soulful voice, and of Joni Mitchell in the melancholy evocativeness of the lyrics.
If this song is up your alley, I encourage you to check out the whole album –– while Sampha is very versatile, his stunning voice weaves a thread from beginning to end.
I am definitely late in terms of boarding the Mitski train, which is surprising –– she’s toured with Frankie Cosmos, whom I’m a huge fan of, and is generally considered an integral part of the DIY indie scene (or whatever the “correct” name for this kind of music is). I’d tried listening to her in the past, and was, I guess, a little put off by what I thought was a much more aggressive, rocky sound than I was expecting. All I can say is that I must have listened to the wrong songs, or had gone temporarily deaf, because dang! This girl can sing! (and write).
Sometimes she seems to look into the soul of the classic American sadboy (or girl); other times, she writes from her own perspective –– that of a triculture disillusioned outsider. Either way, her music is almost always very emotionally evocative. The song below, for example, instantly transported me back into the days of all-encompassing, identity-dissolving and unhealthy first love. It’s off her third album that came out in 2014: “Bury Me at Makeout Creek.” Have a listen!
Over Thanksgiving break, I was at home (in England) visiting a friend at her university in Sheffield. The classic way to spend your Saturday night in England if you’re college-aged, is to go to a club; and so we did. I was ready to be disappointed –– personally, I don’t really find much enjoyment in being in the middle of a crowded dark sweaty room of wasted strangers and subpar house music –– but then this song came on. Immediately, there was a sense of unity in the room; everyone stopped trying to impress the other drunk messes on either sides of themselves and started dancing, in whatever way they could. The club turned into a poorly-lit karaoke. I believe, with 97% certainty, that this song will make you want to sing with it.
I can’t quite remember the first time I heard a ‘Kinks’ song, but it was definitely before ninth grade, when this song became my weekend anthem: almost every Saturday evening, I would catch the train back from Waterloo Station in London back to my house, looking for the fabled sunset that, unfortunately, rarely appeared; England is really submerged in clouds most of the time.This song has a lovely, Beatles-ey rhythm, that so far I’ve found perfect for people-watching, driving back from DIA at three a.m., and, of course, watching the sunset. I have no doubt that the list of places and times that this song fits impeccably goes on and on.
One joyful week this summer, two albums that I have since grown to love, and which I consider creative summits for both artists, came out : “Freetown Sound” by Blood Orange and “Wildflower” by The Avalanches. I’ve seen Blood Orange pop up quite often this year on the SoCC blog, and (in my humble opinion) with good reason. Still, I didn’t want the Avalanches’ album to be overlooked. While its lyrics may not be as emotionally/socially charged, the production value of the album is outstanding –– for proof, just listen to how intricately tens of seconds of samples are woven through most of the songs. For the Song of the Day, I chose “Subways”, the fourth song off of “Wildflower”; listen below and find out why.
I’ve been listening to a bunch of cover albums lately, and quite often covers of this song come up (this one’s a good one –– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qWJPglDkB0), and I usually love them. Today, though, the original came on the radio and I remembered how fucking fantastic this song is. “Home is where I want to be/but I guess I’m already there” is weirdly resonant.
I was driving today, looking at the fog blanket on the mountains. It started snowing, and this song came on. My whole drive home suddenly took on a really lovely quality –– honestly, play this song on your walk/cycle/drive home and the next five or so minutes will become a tiny bit more wonderful.
This is an extended version of the original song, and has a much longer beautiful instrumental part with a lot of brass, which is dope –– brass is always pretty great. Personally, I associate Van a bit more with the summer, but this version of ‘Moondance’ is perfect for this meteorogically–bipolar beginning of the week.
Pick a song you’ve been listening to a lot lately and listen to it again (for me, that song is Happiness by Elliott Smith).
Write/paint/sculpt/make art while it plays, using the song as a prompt.
Flash fictiony thing I wrote in response:
I see him walking up the callous mountain, and I feel a little small. He is wearing Keds, with holes where the sole should join the fabric. His toes poke out. The wind ruffles his hair; I think I see him smiling at the sun rising above the Rockies. Behind me, the house is quiet and drained – Andy and Shane sleep on couch, top-to-tail, in matching t-shirts that say ‘I Heart Xanax’, in the ‘I Heart NY’ style. Shane’s arm is sprawled across the makeshift table (wooden log underneath, piece of cardboard as the top), with a burnt out Parliament between his fingers, leaning towards the ashtray, like a sunflower towards the sun. I sit in a swinging chair on the porch, cradling a cup of Earl Grey like a premature child. The world in front of me is unfolding slowly, calmly – sun peaks out over the mountains; its streaks get in my eyes like loose strands of hair. Behind me, the people sleep through the aftermath of unhealthy decisions, sleep away the glaze, just sleep.