Hello and welcome!
Alright, here we are for Tuesday Time Machine Week 5, featuring my monthly playlist from September of 2020.
For those of you who are checking in for the first time, these monthly playlists which 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. Bat Out of Hell- Meat Loaf
Meat Loaf is a great singer and all, but Todd Rundgren runs the show here.
Todd Rundgren guitar leads in this song are actually, some of my favorite of all time.
Because Mr, Rundgren can really PLAY his guitar, and is perhaps more inclined to wander into Frank Zappa territory, if left to his own devices, it’s really fascinating to hear him play more straight-ahead, “rock guitar,” here.
A consummate musician, he knows every note that makes up the chords he’s playing over, and he understands how to milk them for all their worth, blessing the listener with highly-palatable ear candy.
This song is just shy of 10 minutes, so it’s an investment, but if you’ve never heard it, turn the volume up as loud as your ears will allow, and enjoy one of popular music’s greatest epics.
2. Genesis- Deftones
On Deftones newest album, (which is uniformly BRILLIANT, and may pull “Sunday George” out of retirement) Mr. Steph Carpenter is playing a 9-stringed guitar.
For those who don’t know, that’s three strings more than a regular guitar has.
The thunderous HAMMERING that he subjects his top-most strings to in the verses is a beautiful exercise in brutality. It’s also the perfect counter-point to the dreamier, mid-range sound he taps into during the chorus.
Of particular note here is the breakdown in which Mr. Carpenter toggles his wah-wah, to send us into deep space. An underused paintbrush in his arsenal, he was able to use it in service of making his guitar sound like a bomb going off in slow-motion 20 years ago on, “Pink Maggit,” and while the effect is less earth-shaking here, it’s still a wonderful thing to hear.
3. Don’t Let Go (Love)- En Vogue
My most formative MTV years were arguably between 1996 and 1998— years spent watching whatever was on after school with one of my best childhood friends, my next door neighbor Alec.
The video for this song got a lot of play, because it was included on the, “Set it Off,” soundtrack. I really loved it, though I didn’t say that out loud, as I was laughed at when (as an 8-year old) I told my 3rd grade homeroom that Aaliyah’s, “If Your Girl Only Knew,” was my favorite song.
In any case, 90s R&B music was just better than what followed, and these ladies would embarrass peak-era Destiny’s Child any day of the week.
4. Dear April- Frank Ocean
I found out recently that Mr. Ocean is a fellow member of Team Scorpio, which probably contributes to his very deep and sincere appreciation of instrumentation that sounds DROWNED in the WATER OF LIFE.
Anyways, this is a great tune.
A new album would be nice too— it’s only been four years.
5. 2HONEST (feat. SAINt JHN)- Vic Mensa
Unfortunately, most modern rap leaves me either puzzled or unenthused.
This is a wonderful exception to the rule, one that has shades of perhaps, early Kendrick, early Kanye, and Ghostface circa “Supreme Clientele.”
That’ s a really potent concoction, and if you throw in the especially sinister blown out synth bass lines that creep into the mix during the, “I caught a 5150 on myself,” segments, you have a full-on winner here.
6. Dionne (feat. Justin Vernon)- The Japanese House
Man, this is just so good.
Not gonna lie— earlier this summer, I had a couple shots of some small-batch whiskey that my cousin brought up from Kentucky, and then made a video of me frying an egg, while attempting to hit all my favorite dance moves that I learned from Master P’s stint on Dancing With the Stars.
It’s on my Hinge profile now, fully delighting the women who don’t (rightly) question my mental health.
7. Rain When I Die- High Priest
Yes, this is a cover of one of the greatest stomps that Alice in Chains ever recorded.
I expect I hadn’t listened to the original since college, but the song was brought to my attention by a cover that aired on the uniformly excellent Two Minutes to Late Night channel on YouTube.
This cover is excellent too, and something about it just struck me as the right thing for this particular month. The chorus is one of the greatest ear-worms the band ever wrote, and High Priest more than does it justice.
8. Ants of the Sky- Between the Buried and Me
This is some mean shit, but there’s also a hoe-down towards the end.
Yes, you read that right: a REAL-DEAL hoe-down in a, “contemporary adult death metal,” song…
Banjos, rednecks shouting, “git owwwrwwwwt,” in the background, it’s all in there.
Before that though, about a quarter of the way through the song, there’s a breakdown that picks up exactly where the breakdown from Pantera’s “The Great Southern Trendkill,” left off, and I didn’t know how much I needed that, until I actually heard it.
9. Friend Machine- Nation of Language
This was made in 2020, but it sounds straight out of 1984ish.
Normally, when I hear something like that, I have a problem with it, because– that was almost 40 years ago, and in most instances, whoever the band is trying to ape, already did it better.
Here, things are different. This is the perfect amalgamation of New Order, Ultravox, and A-Ha, circa, “The Living Daylights.”
Now, I have to make the dive with this band’s album.
10. Not Running- The Beths
The fact that this didn’t come into my life 2 years sooner saddens me somewhat, because I could have been listening to it for that much longer.
I vaguely recall accolades and praise when this album came out, but I never checked it out.
I missed an opportunity there. This is peak for the kind of song that it is, and the final minute of this song may well be my favorite thing that I heard this month.
11. Life Itself- Glass Animals
Classy Cassie put me onto this one!
Or, maybe more accurately, her really awesome write-up did.
I’m all about gamelan-inspired percussion, and the instrumentation here would not be out of place in some groovy Neo-Tokyo nightclub featured in Akira.
In fact, can we retroactively make that happen? Insert a scene with Kaneda and the boys getting hyped on this groove, before heading out for the evening, to wreak havoc on their bikes?
Someone should make that a thing.
12. If Only You Knew- Patti LaBelle
About 15 years ago Patti LaBelle did a little-heard remix with Moby, that featured on the soundtrack for Miami Vice.
It’s a shame that it didn’t get more shine, because she sounded just as strong there as she did here, in 1983.
80s R&B runs the risk of sounding cheesy sometimes, but here, we don’t encounter that problem. This is a classic, and it always will be.
13. Grifter Justice- Northern Primitive
This was a weird little indie band that I discovered back when I was living in Minneapolis. They had two songs on their EP that I’d put on repeat for hours, but this one was pretty damn good too.
This is kind of raggedy, and perhaps, under-produced, but there’s a lot of heart here, and both the bass, and drums make me smile ear-to-ear.
14. Dead Souls- NIN
Hands up, who’s seen, “The Crow?”
Idk if that movie is still a thing, as it might be more (in)famous at this point due to Brandon Lee’s tragic death, but for the uninitiated, it’s a 90s comic book outing that has aged pretty damn well.
Director Alex Proyas made magnificent use of the tunes from the films legendary soundtrack, and both this and The Cure’s, “Burn,” featured in two of the movies standout sequences.
Again, I’m not the biggest fan of NIN generally, because of the drum machine stuff, but here, it works like gangbusters.
15. Divorce- 070 Shake
There is some MEAN, MEAN, mini-moog playing in here.
To be clear, 070 Shake effortlessly glides over this generally, beautiful piece of music too, but the synth solo that arrives a little more than halfway through the song is the greatest thing that 70s synth kingpin Jan Hammer never played.