It’s been easy to feel powerless as I hear about friends and family who have already faced racially fueled harassment as consequence to this election. As a person of color processing events that have transpired these past few days, music has been a necessary tool in reaffirming my worth and power. “Alright” is an anthem of persistence and revolt, and Kendrick’s words are a source of reassurance and solidarity in a time that feels hopeless to many.
That’s great, it starts with an earthquake. An escalator, actually. “President-elect Donald J. Trump?” Christ. Well, at least Lenny Bruce is not afraid. Because he’s dead, presumably. Don’t misserve your own needs. Seems a little late for that.
Reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped. TRUMPED. What in the fuck, Michael Stipe. What a prophetic line. Except who the fuck saw this coming? But while you and I are freaking the fuck out, the vitriolic and patriotic sure are feelin’ pretty psyched.
Six o’clock, TV hour, don’t get caught in Trump Tower. A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies. No shit. Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline. Sounds like a quote you’d see in gilded letters on a wall in Donald’s office.
Is it really the end of the world as we know it? I guess we’ll see.
But I’m pretty fucking scared regardless.
Changing it up from his Pearl Jam days, Eddie Vedder’s Into The Wild Soundtrack is some of his finest work. Ever since I read the book and watched the movie, I’ve been obsessed with this soundtrack. It captures everything I love about being in the outdoors. “Society” is definitely the highlight of the album for me. It is both my go-to adventure stoke song and my song for a good Sunday night existential crisis.
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.
Ravyn Lenae hails from the Chicago music scene. She has already collaborated with Noname and Mick Jenkins and is part of the Zero Fatigue collective in Chicago. In “Blossom Dearie,” Lenae’s lyrics pulsate through the song as her ad-libs guide the listener & various sounds loop in the background. “Blossom Dearie” is featured on Lenae’s most recent EP, Moon Shoes.
An outfit that is comprised of funky patterns, bright colors, and/or anything mesh
Shoes to dance in
Since Sunday night I have showered three times and my hair is still shedding silver and gold glitter. My sheets are spotted with the remnants of the blue mascara that was covering my eyebrows approximately 48 hours ago. It’s hard to convey the magic that occurs at a PWR BTTM concert. Starting with the name of the band, the shows are unapologetically queer, but I think the importance of PWR BTTM concerts lie in the safe spaces that they create. At every concert venue, the bathrooms are turned into gender-neutral bathrooms for the night, allowing individuals to focus on the music being played rather than gendering themselves while they go pee.
The authenticity found at PWR BTTM concerts is rare with other bands. Liv and Ben, two trans-feminine members of the band write their music about queerness. In “I Wanna Boi, they sing “I wanna boi who thinks its sexy when my lipstick bleeds/I wanna boi who can go all night without stopping/I wanna boi who knows exactly what he needs.” In “Serving Goffman” they sing “I want to put the whole world in drag/But I’m starting to realize it’s already like that.” At every show, Liv wears incredible shades of lipstick while Ben’s face is covered in multiple layers of glitter. Everything about the band is interconnected with Liv and Ben’s identities as queer and trans individuals. On Sunday, between bars and lyrics, vocalist Ben talked about how they wished the Apple store sold weed (and how they wished they could buy the weed in exchange for a blowjob). Liv told a story about hooking up with a boy from Grindr and spoke about the process of shaving as a Jewish trans-feminine individual.
When looking through the crowd, 99% of the audience was shimmering—quite literally. There was glitter everywhere. Everyone’s make up was on point. For a band to create a space that people feel comfortable enough to express themselves so authentically without fear is rare. When Liv and Ben begin “I Wanna Boi,” everyone is singing along. Fans know every word. They relate to the words being sung. This is not to say that going to PWR BTTM concerts with make up on or dressed up exists without fear. In fact, for many, the only safe space in the entire process is the actual show. The process of getting to and from the venue incites fear due to larger societal expectations of the ways in which people should express themselves. But as PWR BTTM reminds fans: queer is invincible.
Ever since my first PWR BTTM concert a few months ago, I have gone to other concerts hoping for the same unapologetic sense of self from both the artist and the crowd members. Most of the time, I leave impressed with the artist’s talent, but feeling like I am missing something as an audience member. Why is talking about love so acceptable in the music industry, but explicit queerness almost always seems to be missing? If queerness is discussed, it is oftentimes in code or vague. With the rise in PWR BTTM’s fame, I worry that these queer spaces wont be as accessible. Both PWR BTTM shows that I have attended were 16+ and at a small venue in Denver. However, within the last month or so, they’ve received coverage from sites like AV Club and NYLON. What happens when ticket prices go up? Will they start being booked at 21+ venues? What will happen to the 16 year old queer high school fans that feel like they can authentically express themselves at PWR BTTM concerts? This is not to say that PWR BTTM’s rise to fame is not well deserved, but I do wonder what will happen as they continue to gain traction in the current music scene. But for now, I try to remind myself that queer is invincible, even within the capitalist heteronormative music scene.
Mick Jenkins and Jean Deaux link up for a great track with “Noah and the Reign.” The song comes from Mick’s 2013 mixtape “Trees and Truth.” Mick Jenkins’ entire discography is worth checking out and this track is a small sample of his range from catchy, poppy funk on “Your Love” to hard-hitting bars on “The Truth” (also from Truth and Trees).
Coining the term “Beach Goth,” the Growlers are known for their psychedelic/surfer blend of garage rock. However, “I’ll Be Around” shows the Growlers distancing themselves from this genre, delving deeper into the neon-soaked night sound they explored in their previous album Chinese Fountain. Produced by Julian Casablancas, the song has a danceable beat and is rife with spooky synth solos. It’s the perfect tune for a Halloween night out.
My first exposure to Broadcast was “Come On Let’s Go” off of their stellar debut LP The Noise Made By People. That track, characteristic of Broadcast’s glitchy, psychedelic brand of dream pop is truly unique. “Black Cat”, while still retaining the repetitive, minimal melodies and atmospheric drones Broadcast mastered on their first two records, is a different beast; Broadcast trade in live drums for a drum machine and replace gentle synth swells with glitchy melodies and walls of feedback. “Black Cat” features a simple groove that gets turned on its head by fuzzy, stuttering synths and swells of guitar noise. The late Trish Keenan’s hypnotic vocals rise above the droning instrumentation, floating gracefully above a sea of static. It is rare for a band to so successfully incorporate noise and experimental elements into pop music, but Broadcast do it flawlessly. Certainly one of the more original and inventive groups of the early 2000s, Broadcast is a fantastic band well worth a listen. Fans of Animal Collective, Stereolab, MBV, or Yo La Tengo, this’ll be right up your alley. Check it.
If I ever go on a road trip, this will be the first track on my playlist. “Me & Magdalena” fills me with nostalgia and makes me think of wide open spaces. The lyrics are gorgeous, especially the two-line chorus (And I don’t know if I’ve ever loved any other/ half as much as I do in this light she’s under). Play it while walking across campus at sunset for a full listening experience.