Hello and welcome!
Alright, here we are for Tuesday Time Machine Week 3, featuring my monthly playlist from September of 2016.
For those of you who are checking in for the first time, these monthly playlists that I’m re-visiting came about as a result of an idea I had back in January of 2010: an idea that would see me create one 80 minute playlist a month.
The reason for doing this was two-fold: I wanted to create and re-enforce very specific lived experiences and memories tied to music, and I wanted a rather consistent set of songs to propel me each month as I created my art.
In creating these playlists, I tried to make things flow— I wanted songs to segue very effortlessly (or abrasively) creating a sense of narrative.
Going forward, once a week, I’m going to update the Spotify playlist that you can find below.
I’d recommend not shuffling the songs, as they were sequenced the way that they were for a reason. To get the full experience, listen to them in the way in which I’ve arranged things.
Included below is a short description of the tune I’ve included, and/or a description of the specifics memory associated with it. If you’re not trying to read all of that, just hit play on the link below!
1. 715 – CREEKS- Bon Iver
Justin Vernon traffics in finding a very particular beauty in sadness. The excursions in which he does this with solely his voice (Woods being the other standout) possess an immediacy and raw nature despite vocal processing, and it’s really admirable. Here, you can’t help but see something really gorgeous in an obviously, very personal, and heartfelt plea.
2. Stumbleine- Smashing Pumpkins
This song made its way into my life courtesy of my buddy Chuck.
For the uninitiated, Mr. Charlie has a very healthy fear of alligators, probably writes code better than anyone you know, and can bust out some pretty impressive finger-picking on command, doing great justice to songs like this.
It’s funny, because I heard Charlie play this for 5 or 6 of our friends one weekend in Wisconsin, and his playing struck me as more true than what shows up on this original version.
In either case, this is still a great tune.
3. Nikes- Frank Ocean
Do YOU remember when Blonde was about to drop?!
It was a big deal, folks.
Like the Bon Iver tune that kicked things off here, this is a sad song, but you’ll likely not hear anything more striking. The vocal switches, the orchestration of the music, all of it is just wonderful. This is a forever piece of music.
4. Gold- Kiiara
Until Labor Day weekend 2016, I’d never heard of Kiiara.
However, at some point during my families trip, my cousin Lucy, aged 14, took command of the aux chord, and put this one on.
Working with, and teaching 14 year-olds at the time, I was inherently skeptical of that age group’s taste in music, but I thought this song was GREAT.
DJ Screw might have even co-signed that chorus were he still alive.
5. Can’t Stop the Feeling- Justin Timberlake
I know, I know, this was a cheesy movie tie-in song, but let’s be honest, it’s cut from a different cloth when it comes to those kind of productions.
I’ll admit to having a hard time taking Justin Timberlake seriously most of the time, but when he does something like this that’s so fun and spirited, even my skepticism melts away.
6. Into You- Ariana Grande
Wild as it may sound, I don’t think I’d heard an Ariana Grande song until this.
I know, that has to be impossible, but I’m pretty sure it’s the truth.
7. the ends- Travis Scott
Now, you guys, Andre 3000 raps on this song, but he tries to stay in the same lane as the “young” rappers which is like Allan Holdsworth trying to play a guitar solo for Vampire Weekend.
In case that reference was missed, here’s Allan Holdsworth doing his triple-jointed fingers guitar solo routine.
Andre has certainly rapped better than he does on here, but it’s really, really interesting to hear him deliver a verse that’s pretty much concerned only with, “it’s a vibe,” as opposed to, “I’m going to show everyone (once again) why I’m top 5, dead or alive.”
8. Understanding in a Car Crash- Thursday
Everyone has a set of songs from when they were around 12 or 13 that will just never be anything other than the best thing ever, and this is one of those for me.
Yeah, it’s prime emo real estate, but there’s some rickety, wide-ass shit that jumps off in the chorus, and the bass is slick too. This one always gets turned up when it comes on.
9. Freya- The Sword
So, funny story about The Sword— I actually saw them live on election night 2012, at First Avenue in Minneapolis.
About half-way through the show, they got on the mic and said, “Obama won, y’all! Four more years!!!”
The crowd’s response was pretty muted, which I found surprising, but that’s probably due to all the dipshits in the crowd from Prior Lake, who voted for Mitt Romney hours earlier.
The Sword plays Black Sabbath with a little more meat on the riffs (if that’s possible), and this is one of their finest moments— an aural beat-down of gargantuan proportions.
10. It Takes a Muscle- M.I.A.
The song doesn’t hide the fact that its beat is kinda raggedy— almost haphazard as a sound collage. That’s not a diss either. There’s an aesthetic here, and the song owns it. M.I.A.’s voice is always wonderful too, and this is just a great feel-good tune.
11. Warzone- T.I.
I went through a T.I. phase after college.
Really— all I was listening to for a few months was, “King,” and “Trap Muzik.”
Once T.I. started making music that was strictly for the radio, I kinda lost interest, but here he comes with some really impressive lyricism, showcasing a matured approach that comes with doing something for 20 years.
This might have been my favorite rap song of 2016.
12. The Red Shoes- Kate Bush
Did you know that Big Boi is a REALLY, REALLY big Kate Bush fan?
In any case, Kate Bush’s voice is just incredible. She and Liz Fraser are the best things to come out of Europe in the late 80s early 90s, and here, Ms. Bush is in very fine form.
Also, while wildly different, this is a super great Kate Bush cover from some metal boys with Emma Ruth Rundle singing lead vocals.
13. You Only Live Once- The Strokes
This song came out my senior year of high school, which was also my younger brother’s final year of middle school. He had fallen fully under the influence of The Strokes first couple of albums (we went to Catholic school for grades 1-8, so he and his buddies called them the St. Rokes), and while I was kinda skeptical of all that, I couldn’t deny my love of this song from their 3rd album.
I’m not sure what made me think about it 10 years after it came out, but I feel like you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t smile when this song comes on over some speakers. The riffs are all-time greats, and you just have to love this.
14. Obstacle 1- Interpol
Following The Strokes with Interpol seems only fair.
This is probably my favorite Interpol song— this or The Heinrich Maneuver.
This is also a song that’s best played very loud.
15. Moth Into Flame- Metallica
This song deserves particular distinction as when I first heard it, I smiled in a way that I probably hadn’t since I was 16 or so.
Kirk Hammett was probably my first real-deal guitar hero, and at 27, hearing that Metallica had new music coming out, I just couldn’t believe that he was going to be coming with anything new or interesting, much less delightful.
That said, the first time I heard his guitar solo on here, I couldn’t help but feel like a kid again.
To be clear, I guess he really isn’t doing anything new here. BUT, he has fully perfected everything that made me fall in love with his playing when I first started playing guitar myself.
– Of course.
A tone that sounds like cooled lava about to crack open?
– He’s in a thrash metal band.
Light modal and/or chromatic runs?
– HE KNOWS WE NEED THEM.
A little bit of that good old-fashioned slop?
– You know it, you know it, you know it.
16. Lore- Elder
These boys are from Massachusetts, and I have it on good authority that they played some grimy-ass hole-in-the-wall basements on their way up the ladder, and their music certainly reflects that particular truth.
At 14:39, one of the most perfect musical passages of the 21st century begins— the most tremendous outro metal has seen since the closing section of Pantera’s, “Floods.”
Foreboding, cavernous, pummeling, and 100% likely to envelop you in its deep blue brilliance, Elder saved their best moment on this album for the title track.
The whole song is incredible, mind you, but it’s really all about that build towards the blissful annihilation that closes out the song.
If you’re not in your car listening to this at full volume, contemplating the meaning of life while torrential rain craters on your windshield, you’re probably not doing it right.